A Mythological Look at the New Year

A Mythological Look at the New Year

January was named in honor of the Roman god Janus—the god of gates, doorways,  beginnings and endings—and one of the oldest members of the Roman pantheon. He was depicted with two heads facing opposite directions, allowing him to simultaneously see forward and backward, past and future.

Image from Flickr by codicetuna


Janus was considered the “god of the gods,” consistently first in the ancient lists of Roman deities. That his name was given to the first month of the year when the Gregorian calendar was established in 1582 is significant. Not quite finished with the old year (think taxes and the IRS) and thus not fully engaged in the new year, we live January spanning two worlds— what was, and what is yet to be.

Can we gain in our 21st-century, technology-laden lives by understanding the role of this ancient, bi-directional god? I believe we can.

For me, the lesson of Janus is that every day is a door, a beginning, and it is up to me to choose to create and act upon a vision for the future, or stay beholden to the past. Perhaps you see it differently.

So I challenge you this January: As you develop your life and business plans for the next months, imagine you wear Janus’s double face.

Imagine you can see past and future simultaneously, and ask yourself:

  • What practices and behaviors of the past will I allow through the doorway of the new year, and what should be left behind?
  • What treasures of body, mind, and spirit sustain me? What trash holds me back?
  • How have my attitudes and beliefs in the last twelve months colored my perception of what is to come, and am I willing to close the door on those that do not serve me?

January, like its namesake, is the portal between the past and the future. Make it a month of reflection and beginnings for you, for your business, for your family. And when you walk through the door to February, remember that it was named for the Roman Festival of Forgiveness, and the Latin word februare, meaning “to purify.”

A New Kind of Resolution

A New Kind of Resolution

Decades ago, when we were young and eager for success, my friends and I challenged each other to set the most unachievable New Year’s Resolutions and actually attempt to achieve them.

Patti, a fledgling singer/songwriter, vowed to write a Billboard top-ten hit.
Greg, an early adapter of the fitness industry, promised to create a yoga center for the stars.
Leslie, Chuck, and Vince set excessive salary goals for their next job searches.

And I’d be spending my days huddled over the typewriter, pecking out NYT best-sellers one after the other.

You probably guffawed your way through that list, even if you had similar resolutions of your own back in the day. According to Forbes, 80% of people abandon their resolutions by February—so why should this year be any different?

Maybe the issue isn’t the challenge of “keeping” a resolution.

Maybe the issue is the type of resolution we set.

John Lennon famously wrote, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans,” which should give all of us cause to consider whether we want to spend our days focused on the future, or being “in the now.”

These last few years—dealing with COVID restrictions, political unrest, and the general ups and downs of daily life—I’ve had some time to give that quote and a few others some thought. Maybe attempting to regulate how I behave or what I consume is of less importance than some other things.

Meister Eckhart, the 13th Century German philosopher, said, “Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.”


What if, instead of barreling into the day intent on accomplishing as much as possible in the shortest amount of time, we decided to slow down, and let each experience of the day come at us as something new? What if we asked ourselves, “How would a total stranger view this situation, and might that make a different for me today?”

I am quite clear that this is no easy task, and it flies in the face of what many of us have been taught all our lives. But what if asking What if? opened up new possibilities for us or those around us?

Maybe instead of a New Year’s Resolution to be or do more, we should make a resolution to do or be less. “Today I won’t respond to anything without first considering the opposite approach to the one I held yesterday. Today I will play a mind game with myself.”

That could be far more interesting and life-changing than “Today I will do 10 more reps of each exercise,” or “Today I will cut my calorie intake by 10%.”

The quote that got me thinking the most is this: “Every year you make a resolution to change yourself. This year, make a resolution to BE yourself.” (author unknown).

It’s not easy to be yourself, surrounded as we are by hundreds of marketing messages for products, and the constant pressure to conform to fashion in looks and behaviors.

It’s not easy to be yourself.

But what if you gave it a try?

Even if it’s just till February first.

Fear vs Inspiration in Sales

Find their pain and exploit it… that’s the basis of most sales training programs. Find their pain, find their fear, and get them at the gut.

Yes, it’s true.

Going for the gut increases your sales. And the question remains: Do you really serve yourself and your customers/prospects when you come from a space of pain/fear?

If the Law of Attraction is invariable, then focusing on people in pain or in fear will bring you more of the same. That’s great, if that is the space you want to claim as your own. More people with no money, more people with bushels of objections, more people who live in fear of their competitors.

What if you came from a higher consciousness? What if the people you want to attract are those with a chronic positive outlook, the calculated risk-takers, the “I can do it” folks?

What if your elevator pitch was less about what info you can pack into an elevator ride and more about how much you can elevate the thinking and lives of the people you meet?

Just for Today

Look only for the Joy points:

  • Instead of “I help people who don’t know how to…” try “I help people who are excited to learn to…”
  • Instead of “I help people who fear that…” try “I help people who dream of…”
  • Instead of “I help people who lack…” try “I help people who have room for…”

We’d love to hear how your experience of the day changed as you looked for ways to elevate those around you. Please comment below.

The Joy of Adversity

For those who haven’t learned how to be two places at once, and thus missed Linda Angér’s talk at the MCC Birthday Bash and Leadership Expo, here is a transcript…

Your feedback is requested – Thanks!


My name is Linda Anger. I am one of the founding members of MCC, and the founder/president of The Write Concept, a 10-year-old marketing communications company based in Rochester Hills, and I’m here today to speak on the Power of Perseverance.

I can stand here and tell you the platitudes – you’ve heard them a million times. What I really want to share with you is the value of drawing strength from facing the adversity inherent in perseverance. Success, in my book, is not about coming through a challenge unscathed – because adversity isn’t a obstacle to “get around” – it is a part of our life.

I believe things happen FOR us, not TO us… I repeat: things happen FOR us, not TO us. I know that every single thing that has occurred in my life, no matter how positively or negatively I perceived it, happened FOR my ultimate benefit. I hope that 6 minutes from now, you will understand what I mean.

The first story I want to share with you is the tale of Matt Weinstein, a workplace humor and team building expert.  Matt was a self-made and quite wealthy man. One day, while cruising Antarctica on a Russian ice-breaking vessel, he got a satellite call from his wife, who said “Bernie Madoff has been arrested. His entire fund was a scam.” In that moment, Matt Weinstein went from a self-made and very wealthy man to a self-made and virtually penniless man. In January 2009, he said “What we came to understand was that Bernie Madoff stole all of our money – but it was up to us to make sure he didn’t steal the rest of our lives.” What an amazing catalyst that experience was FOR Matt Weinstein and his wife. They refused to allow the Madoff madness to happen TO them, and saw the ultimate benefit in their lives. THAT is the basis of Perseverance.

I ask you – when was the last time something you perceived as negative became a blessing in your life?

J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected by 12 publishers, and even Bloomsbury – the small house that finally purchased the manuscript, told her to get a day job.  She was in the midst of a divorce, her mother had just died, and she was living on government subsidies. She ignored the naysayers, kept on writing, and wrote herself into a $15 billion dollar brand.

How much of a deaf ear do you turn to the naysayers in your life?

Greg Mortenson, founder of the Central Asia Institute, and author of the book “Three Cups of Tea,” tells the story of a mullah in Afghanistan who refused to allow education for girls in his village. It took Mortenson 8 years of conversation and thousands of cups of tea before the mullah relented and allowed 1 girl to go to school.

Would you have the patience to stay with an unlikely prospect for eight years? Would you?

We have become a culture addicted to fast food, instant response and gratification, but Mortensen says “Anything truly important is worth doing very, very slowly.”

Who among you feels comfortable in saying you know me fairly well?  Would any of you say that I was shy, distant, and most of all, a negative thinker?

I didn’t think so, but I will tell you that for the first 23 years of my life, that was the absolute truth.

At the age of 12, and again at 15, I was subjected to experimental bone surgery that only served to make the perceived problems with my legs worse.  For all those years, I was told in many ways – subtle and overt – that I would never be “normal” and shouldn’t bother trying to do any of the things the other kids did without thinking. I was “Different,” and “Different” was not a good thing. For the first 23 years of my life, I believed it and let it rule me. I couldn’t see, at the time, that it was a blessing for me.

Then came the day that a friend challenged the “victim” mentality I was trained to carry. He laid down a challenge I couldn’t refuse – I was determined to show him that he was wrong, that I was physically incapable of doing what he challenged me to do. I surprised myself and did it, and I loved it. That young man’s insistence on getting me out of the psychological straitjacket I wore for so many years changed the course of my life forever. I thank the gods for his persistence – he was the one who taught me to drink deeply of every opportunity, and never substitute “I can’t” for “‘I’m afraid to fail.” It was one of the greatest things that ever happened FOR me.

From the time I started writing stories at 9 years of age, I was told I could never earn a living as a writer. But I have, inside the corporate world for several decades, and as as a small business owner, for over 10 years. That’s Persistence… and trusting that the Universe will always conspire in my favor.

12 years ago, my house burned to the ground. When all you have left is your life, you quickly realize that “stuff” doesn’t matter, and you become far more persistent in pursuing the things that do matter, like – friends, and Wisdom,  your capacity to love, your willingness to give of yourself.

For the better part of the last year,  I’ve been conquering cancer. Many of you have been with me through this journey – and it is your part in it has made cancer an amazing blessing that happened for me. My gratitude to each of you is boundless.

For those who can’t fathom how cancer could be a blessing,  I invite you to contact me and we’ll talk.

My doctor and my chemo nurse tell me they have never seen anyone come through cancer and chemo as cheerfully and uneventfully as I have.  I told them what I learned from Aimee Mullens, a parolympian who holds world records in the 100 meter dash, and long jump. She once said, “Opening ourselves to adversity, dancing with it, is natural and useful. No prognosis can be as powerful a determinate as WILL.”

No prognosis can be as powerful a determinate as WILL… and I’ve determined that I am and shall remain a cancer Conqueress.

I ask you: what role does WILL play in your life so far? and, I tell you: no matter how outrageous or scary it seems, when you can see and feel your dream in your minds eye – leap like your pants are on fire!

This amazing universe will surely catch you.

I came here today to talk about the power of perseverance… to honor the unstoppable spirit of Terry Bean in his vision of building the best networking group in Michigan…. he’s succeeded, as this day proves.

And I leave you with this:

Sir Edmund Hillary, the famous explorer, said,  “It is not the mountains we conquer… it is ourselves.”

Another wise person said “Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.”

And finally, the saying from the Chinese that has been my mantra for many years:

“Those who say a thing cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”

My name is Linda Anger, from The Write Concept.  THANK YOU for your attention.

Now go out there, and make your day magnificent!

From Water to Ice and Back Again

Life has its flow. People come and go in our lives, the economy dips and rises. We are children, then have children. In a culture of advanced technology and continual change, we sometimes hold deep nostalgia for the way it has always been. Not so in the village of Jukkasajärvi, Sweden, 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, where the people celebrate as their greatest achievement melts away each April.  Jukkasajärvi is the site of an annual construction project called the Ice Hotel.

A Deluxe Suite in the Ice Hotel

For centuries, the amazing summer experiences offered by the “Land of the Midnight Sun” were offset by dark, sub-zero, “we can’t do anything but hibernate” winters. But Jukkasajärvi’s winter life was reborn when Åke Larsson and his team created the first Ice Hotel in 1990. Now in its 18th year, the Ice Hotel is redesigned and rebuilt annually, using only snow and ice from the River Tome. Artists and artisans from around the globe vie for the honor of sculpting one of 80+ rooms, and international travelers book their rooms years in advance.

The Ice Hotel is a marvel of architecture and human resilience that shimmers through the winter and melts into the River Tome year after year – an example of how human spirit and creativity can change the face of the earth, and sculpt new life – a new industry – in a remote village.

Life has its flow. Much needs to change here in metro Detroit, and it will. People will come and go in our lives, the economy will dip and rise, and our children’s children will have children. If it is possible to amaze the world by building a hotel out of ice and snow in a small village 200 kilometers inside the Arctic Circle, it is also possible for the people of metro Detroit to once again change the face of the world.

What will you do today?


The Illinois Rain Forest

Drilling 200 feet below the earth’s surface in Vermillion County, Illinois, coal miners found the remains of a 15-square mile fossilized rain forest. Estimated by the National Geographic Society as about three hundred million years old, the fossilization occurred when an earthquake pulled the forest below sea level and buried it in mud.  Yes, that’s right – a prehistoric, dramatic and devastating earthquake in Illinois, of all places.

Reading the story in an old issue of the New York Times set me to thinking about the “ancient history” items in my home and office – the broken tools, ill-fitting clothes, and old business books stuffed and forgotten in closets and drawers…

…and how the world changes. Earthquakes bury a rain forest in mud, technology alters the way we grow our food, and lightning-fast changes in the social and economic climate change the world of marketing.

There will always be reason to keep a sturdy hammer or a little black dress close at hand, but the profitability of marketing efforts changes incrementally, like a shoreline altered by the tide, or dramatically, like a rain forest buried by an earthquake. Successful marketing requires frequent, careful review and strategic change.

What worked when things were moving fast may not work at all in a slow economy. What attracted a buyer last year may be worn out and cliché today.

A “geological survey” of your content files may unearth timeless treasures, or a pile of worn-out tools and fossilized processes. What’s working for you? What’s not working? What needs to be changed?

The hardest part is putting aside emotional attachment, having a clear vision of your goal and an awareness of your options, and heaving what no longer serves you. Perhaps what once was diamonds has turned to dust – or maybe what you thought was a depleted coalmine is actually a lush rain forest.

Will you sing “I’m proud to be a coal miner’s daughter” while you work?