Step Into "What's Next" with Integrity and Intention
“All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment, action for the common good in the present moment, and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way.” — Marcus Aurelius
I had a fascinating discussion about Stoicism and creativity recently with my friend Chris Gill, Professor Emeritus of Ancient Thought at Exeter University. Chris is a deep thinker, a humble soul, and quiet dispenser of profound wisdom.
During our chat, we discussed acceptance.
As human beings and creative souls, we so often and easily attach ourselves to things beyond our control. Recognition, compensation, the opinions of others. These may appear important. They aren’t. The measure of our worth and that of our craft is reflected in how we approach them and toward what purpose we intend to serve.
We don’t control how we or our work are received. We must accept what comes. Resisting this is a path to suffering.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
Do you seek excellence in the work you do or an endeavor you engage in? How do you "level up" in an enterprise worthy of your time and effort?
It's one of the most profound lessons I learned in Seth Godin's altMBA.
Work we do for others is done better when it's done with others!
I believe in Epictetus' maxim, "Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily." But that "work" is pretty useless if it doesn't also elevate and enhance the lives of others. Toward that end, the advice of Seneca comes in handy. "Associate with those who will make a better person of you."
Find your people. Peers to train with, encourage, and support. Mentors, guides, heroes, and teachers to learn from. In turn, share, teach and train those you serve.
Navel gazing, self-help, and personal development that doesn't serve a greater good are pretty pointless (and a bit...
A few weeks ago I spoke with Michael Bungay Stanier, author of The Coaching Habit, about my work with Creative On Purpose. During our chat, he said something that knocked me back on my heels a bit.
"You need to have a sustainable life. If you are a force for good in this world,
get your shit together around how you fund that."
For the better part of two years, I've been cranking out free content that seeks to help others experience greater fulfillment and prosperity through developing their potential and delivering on their promise.
I've received countless endorsements about the value of this work, including this from my friend, mentor, and employer, best-selling author and altMBA creator Seth Godin:
"Scott will open your eyes to a different way of doing work that matters. His generous, persistent, consistent belief in our ability to level up and contribute comes through. This is time well spent."
I've loved every minute I've been immersed in this work. It's connected...
“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist
when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso
In The Stoic Creative, I assert that creativity is an inherent human impulse. If you don't agree, think back to your childhood. A time you were a fearless and unselfconscious creative. Who doesn't remember playing with blocks or dolls, drawing and coloring, dancing and singing songs, or simply telling stories?
There are some interesting studies on where creativity comes from, but I find how creativity happens far more interesting. How is it that you struggle so hard to be creative one moment, only to have inspiration strike "out of the blue" during a walk or shower?
I don't care where creativity comes from, I'm just grateful that it comes! And I find regularly sitting down to work is an invitation creativity finds difficult to resist.
Like a cat, creativity paces warily out of reach when you call it, but as soon as you sit still and turn...
Do you ever wonder what work that matters looks like? I sure do!
Last Friday my wife Lisa and I attended the commencement ceremony at Floyd County High School to watch a dozen or so of my guitar students graduate. After the ceremony, I congratulated each of them and presented them with a copy of Seth Godin's What to Do When It's Your Turn (And It's Always Your Turn).
The young lady in the picture above is Hannah. A student of mine for ten years or so. What does the picture "say" to you? To me, it represents and reflects work matters. Work that I do and seek to get better at every day.
Work that matters is different than work that's famous or work that makes you rich. It's the work we do as human beings in service to other human beings. Work that enhances and elevates the lives of everyone it touches, including the one who creates it.
Work that matters is done by employees, entrepreneurs, and employers. It's also the work done by artists and professionals. The work...
Depression and anxiety are temporary emotional states that we all experience from time to time.
Yes, sometimes depression and anxiety are sustained clinical conditions that require professional treatment. But often depression and anxiety are merely temporary emotional states. Too often we seek to avoid them through the least healthy means. Doctors overprescribe anti-depressants and anxiety suppression meds.
Even when we don't seek medical "solutions," we choose drugs, alcohol, or other means to dull the pain or push it away. This approach only causes further harm to our health and knocks us out of alignment with our virtue.
Recognizing that this kind of suffering is self-imposed and caused by our attachment to the past or future, allows for a healthier approach. We can choose to return to the present moment. Take a pause. Contextualize our situation or circumstance.
We can ask ourselves, "Is what I'm choosing to feel serving me? Serving those I care for? What can I...
Let's face it, you can not live a life worth living without making mistakes. Getting things "right" involves going through a lot of "wrong."
And some of those "wrong" choices of word and deed come with a heaping helping of regret. And when regret appears, you can be sure that shame is following close behind.
But here's the thing, when shame comes to visit, you don't have to extend it an invitation to come in for an extended stay or even an overnight. You don't need to invite shame in for lunch or even tea.
Don't draw the shades and lock the door. That only encourages shame to hang around. And shame is very patient and extremely persistent.
Instead, meet shame at the door and thank it.
"Thank you shame for coming by. Your presence is an indication I have some work to do. A mistake to own, apologize for, and make amends for. And sitting with you, for even a minute, will only get in the way of the important work I need to do to make a wrong a right. So, thanks...
“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.”—Viktor Frankl
At the beginning of this week, I encouraged building some intentional “quiet time” into your day-to-day lives. Paradoxically, it may seem, today I’m encouraging you to build in some struggle!
“It is difficulties that show what men are.”—Epictetus
Progress is facilitated when training is put into practice. You need obstacles, challenges, and misfortune that test and push your abilities.
Don’t hide from or avoid these moments. Welcome them. Embrace them. “Thank” them.
People, situations, and circumstances that encourage us to exercise and employ what you’ve learned are why you practice and prepare. You’ll grow or you’ll learn. Either is a lesson worth the time and effort.
“A setback has often cleared the way for greater prosperity. Many things have...
For those of us on the path of developing and delivering our best selves through our best work, it is easy to get lost in the churn. Hustling to get what we're working on done so we can move on to what's next.
The path to progress doesn't encourage the employment of patience or peace.
But so often the best insights and inspiration come when we are quiet and still. Which is why you need to schedule and insert some of these moments in your day.
For me, these moments are; first thing, mid-day, and at day's end. Upon rising, I journal my morning gratitudes and read a few pages of Meditations. At mid-day, I go for my infamous "cemetery run." At day's end, I jot down my day's biggest success and most challenging moments in my journal.
Fresh perspectives, new angles, unexpected ideas, and interesting insights almost always visit me during at least one of these moments of quiet stillness. The cycles of mental and physical activity momentarily halt and I'm reminded of the gift...
We spend a lot of time in our own heads. Probably more than is healthy. And much of this narrative is feeding questionable agendas and assumptions about ourselves, our situation, and those who surround us.
Piercing the veil of our self-fulfilling self-talk is an exercise worth doing more often. Here's a one-minute exercise that can help you "zoom out," provide a bit of context, and encourages empathy and cosmopolitanism.
It's called Hierocles' Concentric Circles of Concern. Starting with yourself, reach out to ever-widening circles of contacts and imagine pulling those people closer to yourself and into the previous circle. Your family, your friends, your neighbors, people living in the same city or town, and so on and on. You can extend this exercise all the way out to the planet and beyond.
Want to learn more? My friend, Massimo Pigliucci, shares more about this practice and its history in his blog.
What could you accomplish if you got out of your head and into the...