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While I can (and do) strike up conversations with strangers, it is sometimes difficult for me to talk to the ones I love most. Why? I have no fear talking to people I don't know, but I worry about maintaining harmonious relationships with my family, friends and coworkers.

The thing is, the more you avoid those hard conversations, the faster the situation can deteriorate, the harder it is to come back to a place of peace and understanding.

Author Susan Scott beautifully articulates this concept when she writes in the introduction, "In The Sun Also Rises [by Ernest Hemingway], a character drinking with friends in a bar is asked, 'How did you go bankrupt?' He answers, 'Gradually, then suddenly.'...Our careers, our companies, our relationships, and indeed our very lives succeed or fail, gradually, then suddenly, one conversation at a time."

Hence the need for fierce conversations. What is a 'fierce' conversation? "In its simplest form, a fierce conversation is one in which we come out from behind ourselves into the conversation and make it real." In fact, Ms. Scott (I think correctly notes) that a conversation IS a relationship. If the conversation stops...well, you can make that mental leap. But if the conversation flows...WOW!

If you are in any way like me, this book is for you. If you want and need to succeed in life, love, or career, you must start connecting with yourself and with those who are closest to you. Though it may be hard in the short term, it is a saving grace for the long term...and the more you practice the methods Ms. Scott details, the easier it will be to initiate ...and build upon...each conversation.

Want to take this incredible learning a step further? Visit Fierce, Inc. at

I was lucky enough to happen across this book on a bookshelf in our community library. Always in search of the next great idea, this book called to me. When I opened the cover, I was thrilled to read the publishers note: "We all know a great idea when we see one....But where do they come from?"

Author Steven Johnson is the author of eleven books, including Farsighted, Wonderland, and The Ghost Map. He is the host of the PBS series 'How We Got To Now' and the podcast 'American Innovations.' In this circa 250-page book,* he successfully assimilates history, technology, neurobiology, internet culture and urban studies to take the reader through centuries of physical inventions and revolutionary thoughts.

Among many other things, Mr. Jonson talks: Darwin, Steve Jobs, YouTube, the DVD player, incubators, calculators, terrorism, gravity, and even double-entry accounting ("which Goethe called one of the 'finest inventions of the human mind'" (p.56)). Hahah! Truly, this book covers a full range of fascinating topics...and he does so in a way that easily engages the most non-scientific of minds (like mine).

He brilliantly categorizes the origins of ideas into seven main theories: the Adjacent Possible, Liquid Networks, the Slow Hunch, Serendipity, Error, Exaptation, and Platforms. Each so-named section of the book details both how the theory works and how we can move our own ideas forward utilizing the principles underlying the theory.

With these practical tools at our disposal, there is no end to the ways we might start generating ideas!

The things I love most about this book? In Mr. Johnson's own words:"If there is a single maxim that runs through this book's arguments, it is that we are often better served by connecting ideas than we are by protecting them."

Whether it is the nexus of thoughts, events, inventions or people, together we can move forward faster.

* Not including the dozens of pages of annotations, research notes & citations, along with recommended reading.

It is a seemingly simple, but surprisingly difficult question to answer.

The first time I entertained this question was during a graduate school class in Business Administration. The instructor noted that in order to succeed, you had to both be clear on your definition of success and to act in alignment with that definition.

We all sat in silence and pondered the query. When pressed, most of us defined success as exclusively related to career or finances - achieving a certain status, title, or professional milestone.

Our professor swiftly challenged us on this collective, yet very one-sided view. Was 'success' purely professional status and/or salary? What about friends, family, travel, the experience and fostering of life, love and happiness?


Could one proudly declare that their definition of success was making just enough money to support the comfortable (yet maybe modest) life for a family of four? Could success include seeing as much of the world as possible? What if success were tied to inspiring as many smiles as possible every day before noon?

Changing the definition certainly seems to put the concept into reach! If success is smiles and family time and simply doing my best with every day, then WOW have I done well!

Truly, when I view my life through the lens of what is, I have acquired many of the proverbial riches I yearned for in my younger days. Though I lack an official title and my bank account is not as full as I might have hoped, I appreciate that I have had a life of adventure along side my husband and with my children. I have made great progress in unexpected ways.

I am so curious - What is your definition of 'success'? How might you revise your view of that weighty word to better reflect the life that you really want for yourself?

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