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When Even You Are Tired of Yourself

17 Jul

Unless you are following this blog with extraordinary devotion, you might have overlooked a recent trend here at Messy Quest: I’m not writing as frequently as before. The reason is pretty simple: after more than a year of promoting The Messy Quest for Meaning via interviews, speaking events and blog posts, I’m tired of hearing […]


Lessons from a Wireless Weekend

8 Mar

I went wireless last weekend, and I mean that in the old-school way – no TVs, laptops, iPods, Blackberries or even radios. Instead, I spent a couple days at St. Francis Springs, a beautiful Franciscan retreat center nestled on 140 wooded acres in the North Carolina sticks – a getaway arranged as a 40th birthday […]


3 Good Reasons to Start Disappointing People

25 Jul

Too often, I check the dashboard for this blog to see how many people are visiting and what they’re reading. I always pay special attention to the phrases people typed into Google that ultimately led them to my blog. The phrases range from “messy quest” to “best extrovert jokes” to “child praying.” And then last […]


4 Rewards for Sharing a Belated Thank You

11 Jul

Here in the Martin household, we’re working hard on remembering to express gratitude when somebody does something nice for us: Me: Ok, I just climbed up into the attic, where it’s at least 125 degrees, to find your stuffed animal lemur, and now you tell me you really needed the otter. What do you say? […]


The Virtues of Forgetting About Yourself

25 Jun

My wife and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in April, and we couldn’t have asked for a more picturesque setting. After a day of cruising past the Statue of Liberty and strolling down Fifth Avenue, we sat in a fancy restaurant right along the Hudson River. Straight across from us stretched a full view […]


20 Years and a Couple Beers: Why the Long View Matters

14 Mar

A few weeks before leaving town for college, I ran into a childhood buddy at a local hangout. We chatted about packing up for school, his plans to play college football, my plans for continued athletic mediocrity. Then he noticed a guy a year or two older than us hitting on his girlfriend. “I already […]


Quiz Time: How Thick Is Your Social Bubble?

1 Mar

How often do you step back and reflect on the social circles you spend time in? If you’re like me, it’s not too often. At a certain point, the people you know and the circles you run in tend to become a bit like the air you breathe: you don’t even think about it anymore. […]


Do You Have a Personal Board of Directors?

22 Jan

In our newest column today for the Raleigh News & Observer, Christopher Gergen and I report on efforts around North Carolina to create stronger boards of directors for nonprofit organizations. Working on that column made me think: if organizations have a board of directors, why don’t I? It’s a suggestion that Bill George makes in […]


What Are Your Five Types?

4 Jan

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”                                                        — Entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn When I wasn’t busy cursing traffic on the beltway around Washington, traveling with my family over the holidays offered a great chance to ponder this quote, which is one of my favorites. It’s […]


Are There Enough Misfits in Your Life?

1 Dec

In our newest column for the Raleigh News & Observer, Christopher Gergen and I take a look at one of the greatest state governors in American history – North Carolina’s Terry Sanford – and what made him so effective. Sanford was a visionary leader in the arts, education, civil rights and economic development. One of […]