A number of you have asked me if I would say a few words about each of “The T.I.P.S.” (the Twelve Integrated Practices of Sparking) that I recommend as your core strategies for feeding your spark and creating a life of joy, meaning, connection and impact. I will begin that here and assemble them in one place.

I still (try to remember to) open up my T.I.P.S. document each morning and look at it before I get onto The Hamster Wheel.

Each day, the first of the T.I.P.S. I see reads:

  1. Remind Yourself Each Morning What Matters Most

As you start your day — and certainly before you begin working — REVIEW YOUR GOOD LIFE INDEX (GLI) and remember to aim at creating G.L.E.E. (the experiences of joy and meaning that fuel you that you will tuck into your “Good Life Experience Envelope”) OUT OF WHATEVER PRESENTS. I call this “Spark Surfing.” This will help you remember what you are really “after” throughout the day and will make it easier for you to avoid confusing the “means” (of what you have to do or have planned to do) with “ends” (that which you care about the most).

Then I look through my own Good Life Index, which reads as follows:

For me a successful month is a month in which I experience



 … Ease and happiness with Stacey and Tsadia together at least once a day on twenty or more days in the month.


Loving heart connection with Stacey at least once a day on twenty or more days in the month.


Loving heart connection with Tsadia at least once a day on twenty or more days in the month.


… The awareness of deep connection and/or the sense that I am nurturing a friendship at least once a day on twenty or more days in the month.


… The happiness I experience when I co-create a small moment of genuine human connection – especially a serendipitous micro-connection in an unlikely context, at least once a day on twenty or more days in the month. 



Meaning and satisfaction as I use one or more of my gifts to spark others … at least three times a day on twenty five times or more days in the month.


… Gratification s I take at least a small step to create some sense of meaning/purpose (and relief) by writing, recording and posting, and/or otherwise sharing some idea, insight and/or story that I believe could be useful to others — if not in a lasting way — at least five times in the month.



… Delightful belonging that I am “living in the right place,” (including “Beholding Beauty”) at least once a day, on sixteen or more days in the month.


… Exhilaration and coming alive from play, at least once a day on eight or more days in the month

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The Feed Your Spark Glossary

Art credit: Alice Muhlback

Art credit: Alice Muhlback

SPARKspeak or

The Practical FEED YOUR SPARK Glossary


The tool I use to help people define their visions of success for their work in the world each quarter. I encourage people to articulate their vision of success in a way that would meet the “A.C.E. Challenge.” That is, while helping you “take at least a small step in the (right) direction of your “Thinking Big Three Year Vision Of Success,” your quarterly objective should be stated in a way that is Achievable, Clear and Exciting (A-C-E). To me a good indicator of “achievability” is that you have articulated it at a scale that is no smaller than would be satisfying to you, but no larger than you would stake your job on. It should be largely within your own control. “Clear” means that you would definitely be able to recognize your success when you see it. “Exciting,” means that it at least captures your own imagination.


The tool and practice I use to help people cultivate one attribute in themselves (at a time) over a three-month period. The first of the Four Frames to be run in sequence before you make a decision –once you have already paused, decided if the matter at hand is a decision of consequence (see below) and if so, waited for the eight (see below). The mechanics of the Best Self are explained in “The TIPS” document. In contrast to what some people did with me on Best Self 2-25 years ago, my focus now is a “building on islands of success” approach wherein you choose an attribute of you own that is already a strength of yours, as a way to get towards how you want to be. For example, if you are expressive but want to grow in your confidence, we might have you aim at cultivating your Expressive self as a way to move towards your confident self. I can happily explain that more but will leave it here for now.


 A mnemonic device deriving from the letters B-G-I-V to help you remember the sequence of the Four Frames for decision-making (Best Self, Good Life Index, INGs, Vision of Success—which is your ACE Challenge, informed by your Three Year Big Picture Vision of Success).


The process I advise people to engage in before making a decision, by which they attempt to get clear about which of the many questions clamoring for their attention is the most important question to attend to next, understanding that you should make one decision at a time since the facts on the ground in your life will then change and that it is key to become adept at figuring out which is the RIGHT decision to make NEXT.


 The notion of waiting for crisp clarity whenever possible before making a decision of consequence. As in, “did you get to the point where you really felt ‘The Click?’’ if someone says “well, I think I felt a click,” then there was NO click! J



The term I use to describe a decision that might well have implications for your life for seven or more days. The idea behind this is that if a given decision at hand clearly will not have implications for your life for more than seven days then you should make it quickly and make sure you don’t squander precious energy fretting about it before or after and if it might well have implications for you life for more than seven days, then you should Pause.


The activities at work or in your personal life that drain your energy most of the time.


The practice of trying to balance all the intentionality of my approach with a significant openness by aiming at getting good and lost to start each day and thereby making a new discovery or having a new idea/insight.


the art of making that which is right in front you new, fascinating, exhilarating and full of (possibility for) new discovery if not also beautiful.


The practice of taking responsibility for jump starting your own spark first thing in the morning, while putting back in front of your awareness that which matters most to you by reviewing your GLI and aiming at an experience of Threefer Madness, before you get on the hamster wheel. This is NOT just “having a cup of coffee” to lift your mood, this is about lifting your spark number THROUGH activities that give you meaning and joy!


The term I use to collectively describe the Best Self tool, the Good Life Index, the INGs framework and the “Think Big Start Small” vision of success.


The name I use for each of the ten elements of your Good Life Index.


The second of the Four Frames. The tool I use to help you identify what matters the most to you (“what is truly important?”) and what is “enough” to consider a month “on track” an “successful.”

GLEE (Short For “Good Life Experience Envelope”)

The (hopefully daily) practice of noting moments you are grateful for when you feel really alive, having experienced one or more of the Fuel Sources on your Good Life Index that you are now “tucking in” to your Good Life Experience Envelope by recording on your phone or writing down somewhere you will be able to easily find it on Friday afternoon. Thus, “how do I do my work while aiming at GLEE” does not just mean “to be happy” but to create one or more of the ten fuel sources you have identified as most meaningful to you. This has big implications for how to make choices when your life is very full and time feels tight.


See “INGs.” Activities that are really energizing to you that you would say based on past experience will likely enable you to experience (co-create) a spark number of ‘8,’ ‘9,’ or ‘10’ on a 1-10 scale.


The third of the Four Frames. The tool I use to help people consider the actual activities they do at work and in the rest of their lives, with a notion of whether a given activity is really energizing. A ‘10” is an activity that will likely give you a spark number of a ‘10’ and it is so energizing you would do it for free. A ‘1’ is so draining that if you were told you would be paid a million dollars if you did this all day long every day for a year, you would not be able to do it.


A term used in connection with INGs to mean the conditions that can make a given ING become very energizing or very draining.


The parts of your “Three Year Thinking BIG Vision Of Success” that you do not yet feel clarity about but want to name. These get less weight in your decision making process than the parts you “know for sure.”


The key step in the decision-making process I recommend. This involves having the awareness to know that you are about to make a decision or that you have been called on to make a decision. The practice involves closing your mouth, assessing if the question at hand is the most important question to answer right now, then noting if it is a Decision of Consequence (see above) and if so, engaging in the Four Frames process (see above).


An acronym for Possible Story Title. This means a unique word or phrase that you know you have not heard anyone else speak to you in a year and that you can imagine no human being every having spoken. See elsewhere my “Master List of PSTs” for more than 100 examples.

S.O.W. The Story of The Week

The central practice of my Feed Your Spark approach (see details under “The TIPS”) which is like a party game to help you create a sense of coherence out of your week by using a unique word or phrase you happened upon during the course of your week, to connect two or more of the significant development from your week.

This practice helps you to aim at your Good Life Index (GLI) and note GLEE and story material throughout the week, look for and share the significant developments and big juicy questions in your week and live lyrically by listening for and writing down possible story titles as you hear or see them throughout the week.


The combination of your energy, happiness and sense of possibility.


The experience of disappointment and loss that can sometimes follow a period of extended exhilaration.


The practice of assessing and ascribing a 1-10 numerical value to the current state of your own spark – especially with regard to whether you are in a place where you should or should not be making a decision – including the decision as to whether or not you should open your mouth (if your spark number is below an 8).

THE T.I.P.S. (The Twelve Integrated Practices of Sparking)

The collection of the twelve practices I suggest you DO to help you thrive in your life, succeed in your work and change the world.


The term I use playfully to suggest that you should aim as often as possible (which is about as often as you have the thought) at engaging in an activity that enables you to simultaneously experience three or more of the Fuel Sources on your GLI. The state of mind that comes from experiencing three or more of your Fuel Sources simultaneously.


The practice of aiming in the morning at creating at least three moments of GLEE, out of whatever material presents itself in your day, no matter how challenging. This sense of surfing the save of your life is close to the essence of my practice.


The practice of not making a decision about a decision of consequence until you get your spark umber back to an eight.

Copyright. The Sparks Center. 2015-2018. All rights reserved.

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Going Through Spark Valley

Art credit: Alice Muhlback

Art credit: Alice Muhlback


Dear M.

Thanks so much for your honest sharing about going through “Spark Valley” and for posting such generative questions.

You wrote: “I’m so discouraged because I KNOW how capable I am of being a kick ass steward of my spark. How do *YOU* cope with these valleys? How do you “reset” your boundaries with yourself to maintain balance? How do you forgive yourself for this? It’s adversely affecting my family life, my health, my sleep. Lately, as new story material finds it’s way in, I’m struggling to find balance … having more difficulty than usual in “shutting off” the noise, stress, and letting go of some of the challenges to make more room for ease and flow.”

You added “I’m feeling that familiar “funk” (low energy, fatigue, indecisiveness, inability to bust-out of a fog). It’s not depression, so much as it is a “spark valley.” I recognize that they are partially there to remind me of what it feels like when things are awesomesauce…. but I can’t stand it and need to bust out. I’m so pissed off at myself that my ability to “shut off” the stress and noise is somehow compromised in recent weeks.”

I would like to start there and remind you of the importance of being gentle towards yourself and trying to focus on the times you hit the mark and not on the ways you might be missing the mark. Gentleness to yourself is of great value in and of itself AND we do not relate to others in a way that is fundamentally different than the way we relate to ourselves, so it is especially important to build a healthy, respectful relationship with yourself. With that foundation you can then make more possible with and for others as well. You would not say to someone else “you idiot!” or “what is wrong with you?!” so you should watch saying such things to yourself.

Since what we are exploring together is –at least in part –an integrated practice to help us steward our energy, one of the first principles is: “try to avoid taking any actions that directly drain you.” Of course this is much easier said than done but note that “being pissed off at yourself” is an action (not just a feeling), and that this action comes from a decision – a decision about how to speak to yourself. Of course the paradox here is that you should not be making a decision in a low state of spark. Decisions that involve making sweeping statements to oneself are especially problematic. These might include “my life sucks so much right now,” or “I am so mad at myself for not being able to stay at a higher spark level.” Really, one wants to avoid introspection of any kind, when one is well below an 8. In that state, you just need to figure out what the most readily available options are for “reaching for the next highest available ING.” This is, in part, why I recommend actually writing out your “These Are A Few of My Favorite INGs” doc (when you are between an 8 and 10) and keeping copies around where you will be able to find them easily when you need might need to!

Even, if you can find your INGs chart, and you can create the space in your day to choose an activity that might give you immediate (if temporary) Sparklift — even if it might not have seemed like that item was not on the top of your to do list, that is not the whole enchilada. It is just the beginning. Once you are back at an eight, the key is to not then just cruise along going “well I am glad that black cloud lifted” but instead use the opportunity of being back at the 8 to do some reflection and consider the following:

What is the duration of your “Spark Valley?” I have said for some time that I don’t expect to stay above an 8 all the time but that the real key is whether I have developed the capacity to be able to pause when below an 8 and be able to come back to an 8 (or higher) relatively quickly. When you write of “Spark Valley” do you mean that you are seeing a 2 or 3 most days but also getting to an 8 or 9 for part of each day, albeit not for long, or do you mean that you have gone for more than several days in a row without seeing an 8 at all? If you are going up and down daily, but want to be more “uppy” more regularly, there are some sparking tips to consider.

Are you really clear about your Good Life Index at this point? Is it real for you? Are you looking at it every morning and aiming at creating GLEE out of whatever comes?

Are you keeping your expectations clear and modest? That is, are you looking for your “Three Sparks a Day” and do you believe that this is “enough” (for a day)?

Have you clarified (when you were at an 8 or higher) the Best Self attribute you are aiming at and are you remembering to practice that out of whatever comes?

Are you taking the notion of “Story Material” seriously and crafting stories of the week (or of each day) out of whatever comes, so that you can create meaning for yourself and at the end of each week you can really “celebrate the best and let go of the rest?”

Have you been disciplined about answering open ended questions you are asked (such “what’s going on?” “How are you?”) with a story of the most recent moment of GLEE you have not yet told anyone about?

Have you built your own “Book of Sparks” a collection of your own Aha Moments, tips and practices for feeding your spark when you were in a better place? Have you been checking that daily – ideally soon after you complete your First Thing? As a placeholder until you build your own Book of Sparks (that should include tips and insights from others that really work for you as well as tips from me) you might want to use my list of the Twelve Integrated Practices of Sparking (“The T.I.P.S) as your interim “Book of Sparks.”

You can’t expect to just “Be Sparky” without engaging in the twelve elements of the sparking practice. It is not (just) a philosophy, it is a practice. I don’t know about you but whenever I have found a practice that works for me, I tend to suffer when I then neglect the practice. The yoga folks reading this will understand what I mean. You have to get back on the mat, whether or not you feel like it and then do that again. Once you start doing so, things start to shift. The same is true with meditation.

I recognize that there are different “Spark-etypes.” Some of us see (or, more accurately, “create”) 10s every day but also see 2’s most days. Others live most of the time at a 6 or a 7 with some 8’s and 9’s, perhaps not many “10s” but very few 2’s. Nonetheless, if you have been practicing the T.I.P.S but have not (by your own scale) been at an 8 or more at all for a week or more – which is to say your spark has gone missing non-stop for 7 days or longer, or if you cannot even bring yourself to practice the tips and have been steadily below an 8 for a week or more, I would not suggest doubling down on sparky practice. I would recommend instead taking a (hopefully short) break from your sparking explorations and talk with a therapist and/or see a health professional in whom you have confidence to consider if there might well be something else going on that needs attention.

Might there be a physiological dimension contributing to your recent state of funk? Sometimes people have a very real blood sugar issue and/or a thyroid problem, for example. One wants to pay proper attention to those and not just think “if only I could discipline my mind to ‘stay sparky’ everything would be fine.”

Similarly, there can be underlying unresolved emotional issues or deep struggles such as the loss of a parent, challenges in getting pregnant, difficulties in a relationship, a particularly challenging work situation. These can create a very difficult situation where investing time and money in a good therapist should be part of the path.

Sometimes, there is so much on our plate, that it is hard to motivate to do regular exercise but doing so can also shape our inner state dramatically.

A real meditation practice can be helpful in enabling you to come to understand your monkey mind better to help you “shut off the noise.”

I am not saying this just with some notion of offering a disclaimer but because I really believe this. If you are not seeing the 8 at all, something is amiss. Even if you can get to an 8 to 10 while not attending to the above, there is such inefficiency in that approach that I always recommend building the strongest possible personal foundation.

All this to say that I never want to suggest that the Sparking Approach is somehow a panacea and if only you were “better” at staying on the sparking path, all would be well and that is the only thing in life that matters or the only approach to building a good life that works.

My own experience is that while making sure to deal with underlying struggles and recurring patterns through therapy, watching my sugar intake, prioritizing exercise, finding (or creating) a regular meditation practice that can work for me, the sparking approach can be a great help in creating a life of joy, meaning and impact.

I’d love to hear comments from others about this and/or practical questions relating to actually doing what I am describing here.

Spark On!

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Build Your Story Sandwich


Art Credit: Alice Muhlback



Sparker Jed Jordan asked if I would post the most up to date S.O.W. instructions for those who might want to create stories today. I am attaching that here. Let me note that when I explained the process to someone today I said “it is really important that you build your story with a sense of Ease and Flow, so even though I am giving you these instructions, don’t overthink it.” This practice invites you to prepare a bit and then wing it. Don’t try to get this exactly right! Try to make it organic and real — as if you are trying to share a story with a friend you had not spoken with for a week, to convey the essence of what this particular week was about for you, in an engaging and thoughtful way. Once you understand what I am suggesting in the big picture, just look back at your week on Friday afternoon or Saturday (do NOT wait until the following week or it has become a “to do”), figure out what was noteworthy to you about this week in your life or what one Significant Development was in your week, try to articulate one Big Juicy Question (BJQ) from that which might be of interest to other Sparkers, then press “record” and just start talking for 5-7 minutes, saying a few things about the BJQ, while weaving in a bit of GLEE and Story Material. That’s it! Spark On!


SOW Sandwich Final (1)


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Your Sweet Spot For Sparking Change

Saturated 3.2




I know that many of you are having a hard time these days figuring out how best to focus your energy to make a positive difference, given the many things that are crying out for attention.

If you try to engage with every issue that concerns you, your efforts will be neither effective nor sustainable. I am sharing with you here a simple technique I call “How To Find Your Sweet Spot For Sparking Change.”

As I shared in my recent “Hunkerers and Hankerers” post, many people are talking these days about “hunkering down,” and engaging in “self-care.” They are doing so however, with a very incomplete and even dangerously narrow understanding of self care. True self-care necessarily includes clarifying what matters most to you and taking some action in the world to express your core values, to realize your own vision of success. I am saying this not out of some ethical imperative like “everyone must do something” but just reminding you of something you have likely already experienced: that your life is juicier and more satisfying when you are Living Connection and making more possible with and for others. Taking such action helps build a sense of accomplishment and momentum and enables you to ward off the fear, sense of powerlessness, alienation and isolation that are afflicting so many.

I see many people working for change but doing so with such a hankering — a restless desire to make things better — that even taking a few moments to create personal happiness can seem like “selfishness” and a “betrayal of the cause.” When confusing or upsetting things are happening all around you, it becomes even more important — not less — to establish the most solid personal foundation possible of happiness and satisfaction.

Sparking Change, broadly speaking, is an approach to living your life that enables you to create a high level of joy, meaning and impact – that you can sustain over time. Finding your own Sweet Spot for Sparking Change is about taking action which helps you connect what you love doing, what you are most inspired to help make happen and where you have the greatest leverage.

To find your Sweet Spot For Sparking Change, draw a Venn diagram. Put thee circles inside a rectangle. At the top of the first circle put the words “Love It!” Think about what you love to do the most – which activities help you feel most joyfully alive. In my parlance these should be “INGs that are 9’s or 10’s and likely to give you ‘Threefer Madness.’” That is, please write down the most energizing activities for you — those that create a ‘10’ spark number for you while enabling you to simultaneously experience three or more of the fuel sources on your Good Life Index.

The hours you choose to put into your activism – as all the hours in your day– should ideally be spent on activities that give you energy, joy and meaning.

At the top of the second circle please put the words “Light Up!” What are you most inspired to help make happen in your community or in the world right now? I prefer this positive articulation to “what issue or issues concern or worry you the most?”

At the top of the third circle put the words “What Can I Leverage For The Greatest Impact?” In what realms do you have the optimum leverage to make an impact? Perhaps because of some talent of yours, your background, your connections. What kind of resources are abundant for you now? Who would likely heed some message you want to convey?

In the space where these three circles intersect you will find your Sweet Spot for Sparking Change.

To find my own Sweet Spot, for example, I wrote down:

What Do I Love?

Laughing with my buddy Joel and making videos, especially when we are biking or otherwise having fun outdoors and talking with other people in ways that enable me to experience my Fuel Sources of “Creating Small Moments of Micro-connection,” “Using My Gifts to Spark Others,” “Loving the Place that I Live,” “Coming Alive with Play,” “Feeding Friendship,” and “Experiencing the Delight of Beholding Beauty, and/or Enjoying some other Stimulation of my Senses.”

What Lights my Fire? What am I most inspired to help make happen in the world right now?

Creating a culture of connection

What are some of the resources I can leverage?

I have some credibility with at least a good number of the 60,000 + people I have trained and coached around the world. I have strong connections in the rather unusual combination of Ithaca, New York, Vermont and Tanzania. I have the capacity to reach many of these people and connect them through my blog and Facebook page.

My Sweet Spot for Change might therefore be riding around with Joel through the streets of Ithaca on his yellow 1969 Huffy tandem bike, playing, talking with people and making little videos of conversations we are having and connections we are creating with a diverse range of people, then sharing the little clips to invite other people (especially in Ithaca, Vermont and Tanzania) to find their own “Small Spark,” some informal, creative positive strategy to build a bridge across some real divide in our society.

Spark On!


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Sparking is the approach I have developed to help changemakers around the world create lives full of joy, meaning and impact.

There are T.welve I.ntegrated P.ractices for S.parking. I call these “The T.I.P.S.”

Together, these T.I.P.S. can help you boost your energy, happiness and sense of possibility, as you cultivate a life filled with what you value and enjoy most.

The twelve practices are designed to help you cultivate: clarity, mindfulness, gratitude, satisfaction, openness, connection and creativity, as you work to make a positive difference in the world efficiently and sustainably.

Each of these practices is explained in more detail in a dedicated post on this site but here is the quick overview. This post is intended as a reminder/cheat sheet for those I have already coached; I do not expect those new to Sparking to be able to take action from this post alone.

  1. Start each day with your own First Thing—an activity to take responsibility for jump starting your own spark out of your Fuel Sources, while putting back in front of your awareness again that which matters most to you and which you will aim at throughout the day ahead, before you get on the hamster wheel.*

*Note: This tip is of great importance to the Spark-etype known as “The Swinger” and unnecessary for the Spark-etype called “The Uber Sparker.” Some people are such great Natural Sparkers that they start most of their days full of energy, clarity, possibility and joy; they do not need a “First Thing.” For the rest of us, this practice can be very helpful to remember what we are aiming to create out of whatever presents itself to us throughout the day, while getting us on the most solid ground possible to start going about our business and interacting with others. I am putting in bold here the practices that I regard as valuable for everyone.

  1. Exploriment as part of your First Thing or as early in the day as you can to cultivate your openness and playfulness, in order to balance all the intentionality of the Sparking Life. In your Explorimenting you will purposefully make decisions to get out of your comfort zone; and thereby experience things with a more open, confident perspective.

Note: This tip is of great importance to the Spark-etype know as “The Planner,” who might want to aim at more openness.

  1. Review your own “Book of Sparks” the collection of your own Aha Moments, tips and practices for feeding your spark that you have built– soon after you complete your First Thing. This not only can but should include insights you have gleaned from other sources and experiences that have worked for you, as well as tips from me. As a placeholder until you create your own Book of Sparks you can use the Twelve Integrated Practices for Sparking as your interim “Book of Sparks.”
  1. As you start your day — and certainly before you begin working — review your Good Life Index (GLI) and remember to aim at creating G.L.E.E. (experiences of joy and meaning that fuel you that you will tuck into your “Good Life Experience Envelope) out of whatever presents. As you progress to what we call Next Level Sparking, you will aim at “Threefer Madness” by choosing activities that will make it as likely as possible that you will simultaneously experience three or more of the Fuel Sources on your Good Life Index. Ideally, you will experience Threefer madness for at least part of each day. If you operate with a to do list or a calendar, you should check out your GLI before leap in so you do not confuse “means” with “ends.”
  1. Aim at “3-GLEE Vision.” That is, living with the awareness that throughout the day you are looking for opportunities to create GLEE at least three times and that once a day you will reflect onand record in a way that is easy for you — the three or more experiences during the day when you felt most alive.
  1. Answer open-ended questions you are asked (such “what’s going on?” “How are you?”) with a story of the most recent moment of your G.L.E.E. that you have not yet told anyone about.
  1. Cultivate your lyrical living and positive perspective by keeping track of your “Story Material” (experiences that are NOT delightful but from which you might be able to create some meaning) and a running list of your Possible Story Titles for your Story Of The Week (S.O.W.) Remember: “PST!” (The universe is giving you a gift by whispering P.ossible S.tory T.itles to you).
  1. Review your G.L.E.E., P.S.T.s and Story Material at the same time once a week and craft your S.O.W. to celebrate and try to remember what is best and let go of the rest.
  1. Stay aware of your Spark Number (which corresponds to your energy, happiness and sense of possibility) throughout the day and make choices accordingly. This means that whenever you come back to awareness that your Spark Number has dropped below an 8 (on a 1-10 scale of your own assessment), no matter what you had thought or planned as your next task, you should immediately move to the top of your to do list the most readily available activity that will get your Spark Number back up to at least an 8 (Sparkers call this “reaching for the next highest ING”).  
  2. Steward your energy wisely by coding your to do list by ING number (the Spark Number that you think will likely result from engaging in this activity) and practice “Sudoku Scheduling” or “Sandwich Scheduling.” Remember to make sure you leave work at an 8 or higher.
  1. Practice the Four Frames approach to decision-making. This involves getting to know your own cues that tell you when you are about to make a decision and which decisions matter most, then making sure you PAUSE before making a “decision of consequence,” get your Spark Number to an 8 or higher, “clarify the question” to make sure you are attempting to answer THE question you need to answer next and THEN make your decision about your Clarified Question based on your “Four Frames” (Best Self, Good Life Index, INGs and Vision of Success, each of which is explained in a separate post on this site).
  1. Finally, in terms of the Key to Feeding Your Spark that I call “Living Connection,” greet every person you encounter as if you might never see them again or as if they might become your best friend. Either way this is THE moment to share some spark – hear a good story from them, learn from them, share something with them that matters. Any transactional encounter can be transformed into a moment of genuine human connection!

 Spark On!

 Copyright. The Sparks Center. 2015-2017. All rights reserved.

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How To Craft a Powerful Story Of the Week

Updated Tips (2/17) For How to Craft a Powerful Story of the Week

Even if you think you know how to SOW, let go of that and please follow this “new and improved” approach:

  1. Review the “Helpful Hints”:
  • Think of your S.O.W. as an opportunity to savor and make the most of the events of your week. Remember the mantra for Friday afternoon “Celebrate the best and let go of the rest!”
  • Imagine yourself a year from now. What would you hope to remember as the most meaningful moments and insights from this week in your life?
  • Resist the urge to take your story in unplanned directions. Use specific, compelling details but avoid veering away from your outline.
  • Consider that your story might be shared with others at some point –with your permission only, of course– and choose your title/language/details with that in mind.
  1. If you have kept track of your Significant Developments, GLEE and Story Material from the week, review them. If not, don’t sweat it; just check your calendar, emails, voice memos if you make any, to jog your memory and try to think back on your week and then Collect your content by jotting down:
  • 2-3 significant developments from the week that you want to mention. These are emotionally resonant things that happened for you that made this week somehow different from all other weeks. These need not be “positive.” By themselves they may or may not be of great interest to others. For example “getting a big piece of wood out of my toe that was buried deep in there for 24 days,” “launching a major new work initiative,” “yelling at my kid and then having a reconciliation and discussion about forgiveness.”
  • 2-4 moments of GLEE from your week that really sing to you the most and that you want to celebrate and remember.
  • a few (1-3) examples of story material (moments of challenge/frustration/pain) that you can express vividly that were also real for you this week.
  1. Review your PSTs (the Possible Story Titles that presented themselves to you this week in seemingly random moments) and let the possibilities wash over you as you entertain/look for possible connections between them and any (or all) of the elements in step #2 above.
  1. Look for/wait for the “click” — an a-ha moment of clarity– as to how you could use one of the most colorful title possibilities with two or more of the elements in Step #2 (above).
  1. When you have your core concept set with a title and a sense of how that will connect some significant development and some GLEE, articulate the BIGGEST JUICIEST QUESTION you can out of this that is resonant for you and would most likely resonate for other Sparkers.
  1. Think about how you could articulate one or two thoughts or insights in relation to the Big Juicy Question as you go, so you ready yourself to develop the idea a bit.
  1. Plan the opening by writing down what you’ll say verbatim in the first two sentences.
  • Sentence #1: An attention-grabbing topic sentence (NOT asking/answering the big question).
  • Sentence #2: “My big juicy question for this week is….”
  1. Try to think of a way you could conclude your story before you begin. This might happen more organically as your story comes to its natural end, but avoid letting it just peter out.
  1. Switch your phone to Do Not Disturb mode.
  1. Press record and let it rip. Keep an eye on a timer in order to keep your story brief (typically no more than 5-7 minutes).

Send your story to

Spark On!

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Your Good Life Index should SING to you!

I have been saying for some months now that to be of value to you, your Good Life Index should really SING to you. I do not want you to just have a static list in some document on your laptop; I want you to get into a conversation with yourself all day long so that whatever comes up in your day, you can ask “is there a way I can create GLEE out of this? That is why I keep pushing many of you to come up with “snappy names” for your fuel sources.

I have been incredibly lucky to have had more than 600 people in sessions I have led in the past 60 days and to have been able to do in-depth coaching with more than 60 people during this same period, including at least six of the most inspiring coachees I have ever had the pleasure of working with. I have asked each if I could put up their Good Life Index and other materials they have sent me to provide examples of how to make aa GLI come alive. Here I am putting up the first Good Life Index and accompanying graphic I received today from the amazing Amy Mason. I have also put up her stunning “These Are A Few Of My Favorite INGs” document. getpart-1


“For me a successful month is a month in which I experience …”

  1. Pleasurable Presence: …the feeling of utter delight about being in the moment with one of my kids, with Brian or with someone else I love, and REALLY savoring the silliness, affection, or closeness of the moment. This is a one-on-one sensation, and it means really being present, without distraction. A successful month would include experiencing this at least 20 times.
  2. Happy Pack: … the feeling of gratefulness to have certain people in my life/our family. The feeling is present when I am in a group I feel I can depend on, who makes life more fun, who is or feels like family and with whom we can be completely open and vulnerable. I get this feeling specifically when we are with Tom & Allison or the Deyo family, but occasionally with my own family and other close friends. Often I am already wondering when we will get to do it again. A good month would include experiencing this at least twice.
  3. Common Cause: … the satisfaction of working together with someone else toward a purpose we both care about. We feel things are moving forward in some way, and it is because we are collaborating. For a successful month, I would experience this at least 10 times.
  4. Joy of Giving: … the feeling of fulfillment that comes from going the extra mile to encourage or cheer someone on, or make their life a little better. I feel this when I send a card to someone who needs shoring up, take on a task to spare someone the time, volunteer at our local food shelf, or make some sort of meaningful donation to a non-profit. In a good month, I would experience such joy at least 8 times.
  5. Fresh Tracks: …the dopamine-inducing novelty of being in new territory, and can take a fresh look at something with new eyes. I may be either in a new physical place or I may be in a familiar place, but experiencing something totally anew. A successful month includes experiencing Fresh Tracks at least 4 times.
  6. Catalyst Cap:  …the invigoration of slipping into a role that involves me actively listening, searching my archives for relevant common ground or other data, possibly doing some research, and then encouraging/supporting/facilitating someone’s ability to move forward with something important to them. Experiencing this at least 4 times means I’ve had a good month.
  7. Brain-Spansion: … the enthusiastic engagement of my brain in absorbing something fascinating. A good month would have me experiencing this at least 10 times.
  8. Marvelous Nature: … reveling in something remarkable the earth has delivered (a beautiful vista; a warm salty breeze; perfect snowflakes). In a successful month, I will have experienced this at least 6 times.
  9. Drinking It In: … delighting in the sensation of being moved by beautiful art, architecture, music, poetry, a passage in a great novel or even part of a podcast. A good month would include at least 10 examples of this kind of experience.
  10. The Magic of Music: … The pleasure of participating actively in music by playing the flute or piano, singing or engaging in some form of dance. In a good month, I would enjoy the Magic of Music at least 4 times, of which at least two should be dancing.
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These Are A Few Of My Favorite INGs


Photo credit: Astrid Jirka

We can do WAY better than just “preventing burnout.” The Sparks Center is committed to supporting you to move towards Peak Performance in your work and your efforts to create positive change, while having lots of Peak Experiences.

Having studied Peak Performance for more than 30 years, I can tell you that one of the primary indicators of who thrives over time and succeeds at their work is do you spend at least 50% of your working hours on your highest “INGs” – the actual activities you engage in that energize you the most?

If you have not recently created a “These Are A few of My favorite INGs,” list of your Top 50 INGs – with “modifiers,” (the specific conditions that have to be present for this activity to be particularly energizing for you, I strongly encouraged you to do so and share it with us, as many of you have done this month. We are posting three here that we think are good examples.

Two people in workshops with me this past month have sung me some of their favorite INGs to the tune of “These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things!”

I would love you to send along a recording of yourself singing some of your favorite INGs, so we can put up a more lyrical, sparky example. Even, if you are not, ready to share your singing, however, at least share with us your collection of what energizes you the most. Spark On!

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