Sharing the “Spark”: A New Initiative!

A simple Google search will introduce you to a world of definitions for the word, “spark”, but what does this word actually mean to you? If you were to try and describe it to someone who had never heard it before, how would you define it?

Here at sparkspace, we recognize a “spark” as something that is no less than a magical occurrence. It’s the blast of energy we feel upon witnessing or performing a good deed. It’s the mini “mind-explosion” that’s set off when a new idea is born. It’s the moment when you realize the pathway of your dreams has finally found its way to merge with the path to reality. A spark is a momentary superpower that drives us into becoming more creative, productive, and helpful individuals.

If you were to stumble upon something as incredible as a spark-worthy moment, encounter, or organization, you’d want to share that “incredible-ness” with others, right? This is where the new “share the spark” initiative comes into play.

In this moment, I ask that you stop what you’re doing.

Stop reading.

Stop creeping on social media.

Go to Google.

Type “Nonprofits in Columbus, Ohio” into the search bar.

Click on the first result. (“greatnonprofits.org”)

When you get to the website, take a moment to browse. In doing so, you will see that there are 50 pages of non-profit organizations to sift through. With 10 individual organizations on each page, that equates to five-hundred non-profit organizations…in our community alone.

FIVE-HUNDRED.

It was with this realization that the spark of wanting to do more to help those who are desperately trying to build up our community was born.

With share the spark, so begins an initiative to help ignite the flames that are in need of a little boost.

Though the spark can be described in many ways, we hope to use our own definition as a source of inspiration for those we intend to help.

So, who, exactly are we aiming to help? 

The answer is simple. We’re aiming to help the people who are making a positive impact on our city. In addition to nonprofits, we’ll be looking into various charities, community projects, and countless “unsung heroes” that continuously work to make our Columbus an incredible place to live—or in our case, an incredible place to turn a dream into reality.

At sparkspace, we often find ourselves feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for this very reason. Because of the support this community has continuously shown us, the sparkspace dream was able to come to life, and has continued to thrive now for over 16 years. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those people who believe in us, and believe in our dream.

That said, we’re eager to take things up a notch! 

We love to give back to our community, and we want these incredible people to know that others believe in them. More important than that, however, we simply want them to believe. Believe in their spark. Believe in the bursts of contagious energy that come from witnessing, supporting, and performing good deeds, believe in the mini-mind explosions that partner up with fresh new ideas, and believe that dreams can and will merge with reality if only they have the courage to dedicate their minds and hearts to finding that place.

In addition to “feature” posts that will soon be appearing on our blog, we have a number of spark-worthy opportunities to nestle beneath the share the spark umbrella (including but not limited to: quarterly “team volunteer days”, surprise discounted space offers, administrative luncheons, and more!) and we are incredibly excited to start sharing this new adventure with all of you!

We hope you’ll join us in the implementation of this new initiative! Click here to find out how to get involved.

 

 

6 Reasons Why I Don’t Drink Alcohol Anymore

On our 15th wedding anniversary, my amazing wife and I were toasting with champagne at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Florida. Within moments of my first sip, I felt extremely weird. My face, neck, and arms turned red and tingled painfully all over. It started to become harder to breathe. Apparently I was having an allergic reaction to the champagne. We were 30 seconds from calling the paramedics when I felt the reaction level off, then start to slowly diminish. After about 20 minutes, everything was back to normal and our celebration continued.

That was eight years ago. And it was the last time I had a drink.

Now I feel the need to pause here to let you  know that I am not a recovering alcoholic, nor am I an officer of the Bible-thumping morality police (Christian, yes, Bible-thumper, no). The reason I have to say that is because when you tell people you don’t drink, they immediately assume that you just got out of rehab or you just came from a church revival.

What people have a hard time wrapping their head around is that I don’t drink alcohol simply because I FEEL BETTER when I don’t drink.

Prior to my allergic reaction – which, by the way, I believe was a one-time fluke – my wife and I had discussed the idea of giving up alcohol many times. Know when we had most of those discussions? Saturday mornings after having a few drinks on Friday night. Even a single beer or glass of wine would show up the next day in the form of a light hangover and slow us down for at least half the day. You may be saying to yourself, “He just doesn’t know how to hold his liquor.” But really, is that a good thing, to be able to hold your liquor?

When we gave up alcohol, we immediately felt better. Our Saturdays were more fun. We saved a ton of money when we went out to eat. Our livers wrote us thank you notes.

I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but here are six reasons why I don’t drink alcohol anymore:

1. I like to stay in control.
Alcohol is a mood-altering substance. It’s a drug designed to change the way you feel. It also has an uncanny ability to take away your common sense. There are countless examples of poor decisions made after even a few beers. Ever seen a really bad tattoo? My point exactly.

2. My Saturdays are too valuable to give up.
Life is short enough without losing half my Saturday (or any day after drinking) to a hangover. And yes, a headache counts as a hangover in my book. I’ve got a wife, kids, dogs, parents, a house, and about a thousand other things that I’d like to be 100% present for. Can’t do that if I feel like crap.

3. My health is a top priority.
I know some people buy into the argument that a little alcohol has some health benefits. Keep tellin’ yourself that, sweetheart. I subscribe to the idea that if something makes you feel like crap the next day, it’s probably not good for you. The exception to this rule would be exercise.

4. I don’t need it to have a good time.
One of the most disturbing observations I’ve made as a non-drinker is that the vast majority of adults believe that to have fun, alcohol has to be involved. And business-related fun is no exception. Don’t believe me? Name an after-work social activity that doesn’t involve drinking. Or a social activity at a business conference that is alcohol-free. Stumped ya, didn’t I?

5. High-performers don’t drink (much).
Over the past eight years as a non-drinker, I’ve noticed that the most successful people I’ve met don’t really drink much, if at all. When I see what works for successful people, I like to model it.

6. I FEEL BETTER WHEN I DON’T DRINK.
I said it before and I will say it again: I simply feel better, healthier, more energetic, more focused, and more powerful when I don’t drink. Even though this is the last point in my list, it is the #1 reason why I don’t drink.

 

The only difficult part of being a non-drinker is that I have never found a satisfying answer to the question, “You’re not drinking?”, when I order a Coke Zero at a table full of Margaritas. Like I said, people who drink can’t seem to comprehend why I don’t. And it is sometimes difficult or even uncomfortable to explain why. Maybe I should just carry a copy of this article with me from now and and just say, “Here, read this” the next time I’m asked.

So, why am I telling you all of this? After all, this is not the usual inspirational type of content that I usually produce.

It’s important to note that I am not against alcohol or the alcohol industry. I have many successful friends who enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or who love to sample the local craft beers in every city they visit. I actually enjoy talking to them about why they like or don’t like a particular wine or beer. Again, this is a choice I have made for ME, period.

The reason I’m sharing this is because lately I have sensed a growing number of people who are on the fence about giving up alcohol, but simply haven’t yet. I can tell because they show a curious fascination when they discover that I don’t drink. I’ve also talked to some people who actually look sad when I tell them, as if they wish they could stop but just don’t believe they can. So I hope this article IS inspirational to those people.

Maybe I’ve piqued your curiosity about what life would be like without alcohol. Here’s an idea: give it a try. Go alcohol-free for a month, or the rest of the summer, or the rest of the year. See what happens. See how you feel. See where life takes you.

If you don’t buy into this idea, that’s totally ok with me. All I know is that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

 

Do you agree? Disagree? Want to make a public commitment to go alcohol free? Leave a comment below and join the conversation!

 

Being in the meeting business for more than a dozen years has taught me one thing:

Most meetings suck.

But they don’t have to.

Having witnessed over 5000 meetings at our retreat center so far, I’ve seen about 4900 that could have been improved by following a few simple tips:

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Waiting for coffee at my local Starbucks, I noticed two cups of “sticks” on the counter. One contained “stir sticks” and the other contained “splash sticks.” In coffee world, one is used to mix things up in your drink. The other is used to keep the drink from spilling out of the little hole in your cup lid.

I had just finished reading a great article posted by our friends at Boost! in Cincinnati (a great space for an off-site meeting by the way) entitled “How to Lead a Great Meeting.” The article contains some solid suggestions for getting more out of your time together as a team.

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