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The Perils of Certainty & Confidence

Certainty and confidence are over-rated and the enemies of creativity. I take some flak for asserting this, but I stand by that assertion.

Here's the deal. Creativity is about change. Creativity is about innovation. Creativity is about risk. Creativity is an act of faith driven by an impulse that things can be improved.

Creative acts are executed with the understanding that they might not work. Failure is a distinct and real possibility. And yet, you, creative being that you are, generously lean in and bravely leap into a possibility "as if" there's a better way.

Creative requires courage. The courage of conviction and the courage to step into and influence what happens next. Curiosity, coupled with courage, creates change.

Certainty and confidence, on the other hand, are tied in the tried and true and the status quo. Certainty and confidence are earned by mastering information, systems, and structures that are firmly established.

But far too often...

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Cleaning Out the Cruft

personal development Aug 05, 2018

I can't remember which book Seth Godin references cruft, but the metaphor is compelling,

Cruft Hall is a building on the campus of Harvard University that housed the Physics Department's radar lab during World War II. As late as the early 1990s, unused technical equipment could be seen stacked in front of the windows of Cruft Hall.

"Cruft" became a term coders use to describe outdated, unnecessary, and useless code that accumulates as new features are added to existing features are modified within the software. It slows down and diminishes the efficiency of the software's function by making it more difficult and time-consuming for the code to execute its purpose.

The thing about cruft is that it happens slowly and over time. You don't notice it from update to update. But at some point, you realize that your computer or device just isn't performing like it used to.

Creeping cruft is an insidious and frustrating problem that needs to be addressed in our lives and work as often,...

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Lead or Follow?

personal development Jul 30, 2018

"Lead someone to the truth and you will find that they can follow." - Epictetus

Lead or follow? It's actually not an either/or choice. We can do one or the other in various roles and circumstances or we can do both simultaneously. The essential thing is to do so with a clear motivation, intention, and aspiration.

Whether you are leading, following (or both), here are some considerations:

  • Motivation - Why are you leading and/or following? Is your impulse generous or selfish? Honest or deceptive?
  • Intention - Where are you going? Does it align with your values and talents? Are you connecting with people who share your values and need your talents?
  • Aspiration - What is the fundamental need, dream, or desire this journey serves? Is everyone elevated and enhanced by this pursuit?

Leaders need followers and followers need leaders. Leadership isn't based on authority and followership isn't based on subordination. Both are active roles based on trust, shared ideas, and mutual...

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Appreciate Or Value?

personal development Jul 27, 2018

“Look inward. Don’t let the true nature or value of anything elude you.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 6.3

Appreciate or value? Creatives really wrestle with the distinction. So do thoughtful members of their audience.

There are several ways to express appreciation for worthwhile endeavors. Clapping, a smile, maybe a nod during a live exchange. A “Like,” “Comment,” or “Share” during an online one.

But when you value someone’s efforts, you go a step further. You invest, tip, or otherwise contribute. You validate and encourage efforts worth supporting.

What do you appreciate? What do you value? How do you express each?

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Scott

P.S. - Do you...

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Are You Defined or Informed By Adversity?

personal development Jul 22, 2018

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation." - Henry David Thoreau, Walden

You and I are wired differently and we each have unique experiences. But you and I share the capacity for reason, a creative impulse, and a social instinct. What's more, you and I can choose how we frame any situation we find ourselves in.

No life is without trials and tribulations. But suffering is a choice. It's what happens when you buy the lie that you are defined by your circumstances or that everything is beyond your control. You're not defined by your situation, and you do control the two things required to thrive anytime and anywhere. There's absolutely no need to resign yourself to a life of "quiet desperation."

Every adversity you face comes with lessons that can inform you. These lessons can be used to build yourself and help you become more resilient. You choose how an unfortunate incident or terrible tragedy is framed. ...

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The Perils of Self-Help

personal development Jul 19, 2018

“Have I done something for the common good? Then I share in the benefits. To stay centered on that. Not to give up.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 11.4

The bookstore and library have a Self-Help section, but not a Help-Others section.

Why?

Humans are inherently social and collaborative beings. There's an evolutionary imperative for this. In the beginning, we were neither the strongest nor the fastest creature scuttling about the landscape and there were stronger and faster creatures out there eager to turn us into lunch.

It was banding together that enabled us to survive. This led to language which led to the development of our neo-cortex. And this all led us from being frightened furballs hiding in caves to becoming the hairless apes that dominate the planet.

Fast forward to today. We've discovered that living and working with others boosts not just our productivity and success, but our mental, physical, and spiritual health and happiness. There's plenty...

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Wicked Conversations

personal development Jul 14, 2018

How to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable

Wicked Conversations tackle Wicked Problems and help lead to Wicked Results.

The use of "Wicked" indicates challenging, interesting, and worth it, not evil or done with malicious intent.

What’s Are Wicked Conversations For?

Wicked Conversations provides an approach for engaging in challenging discussions that lead to a deeper understanding of topics that defy easy resolution and positions you don’t share.

Wicked Conversations tackle difficult subjects with curiosity and courage. In Wicked Conversations attachment to assumptions and agendas melt away and transformation and truth become accessible. 

Who Are Wicked Conversations For?

Wicked Conversations are for those who seek to engage in meaningful dialogue that embraces empathy and mutual respect, even when they do not reach consensus or mutual appreciation.

What Promise Is Wicked Conversations Making?

Applying the Wicked Conversation approach to challenging debates...

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Life Happens Through Us, Not to Us

personal development Jul 13, 2018

I listened to a podcast a few days ago during my cemetery run that featured Sam Harris and Dan Dennet arguing about free will. It was an interesting, but ultimately fruitless, exchange.

Are we the masters of our destiny or our lives fated?

The answer is unknowable and even if it was, knowing would be more harmful than helpful.

Either way, each of us has a role to play. 

The most helpful and healthy approach to the question of whether our lives are decided by us or by providence is this. Accepting that life doesn’t simply happen to us but through us. This is the path to experiencing more well-being and prosperity in our work, lives, and relationships.

In each and every moment we find ourselves in is the opportunity for us to choose how we frame our circumstance and what we decide to do next. At the very least, we are in charge of these choices.

Stepping forward with thoughtful intention, generous motivation, and an aspiration that is giving and kind is a choice we can...

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How to Shun Mediocrity

personal development Jul 06, 2018

“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.” - Viktor Frankl

Work worth doing, concepts worth pondering, talents worth cultivating. These require a desire to embrace challenges and uncertainty with curiosity and courage.

The importance of commitment, dedication, consistency, generosity, and resilience are not unfamiliar to people like us.

But fear of failure is also a constant companion when you’re engaged in endeavors that matter. So are anxiety and Resistance. These forces try to push you to the convenient, the boring, and the dumb through guilt, shame, and a false sense of security. They tempt you to remain humble and hiding.

The good news is that there are workarounds, antidotes, and alternatives to fear, anxiety, and Resistance. These solutions exist in many traditions and disciplines. But I offer these “answers” by ancient Stoic philosophers on how to avoid to the urge or...

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Opportunity Vs. Outcome

personal development Jun 29, 2018

Do you spend more time than is healthy focusing on outcomes that are beyond your control? I know I do! Attachment to results that are beyond your determination is not just unhealthy, it's a path to suffering.

In any moment all you really control is how you frame things and what you do next. Whatever the situation or circumstance, you can choose to see the opportunity.

  • The opportunity to find a way around, under, over, or through difficulty.
  • The opportunity to join in a celebration.
  • The opportunity to meet a challenge worthy of your talent or training.
  • The opportunity to engage your curiosity, creativity, and courage.
  • The opportunity to practice the virtue of patience, humility, or acceptance.

It's likely you will encounter adversity, a complication, or some predicament today. Maybe you already are. How will you face it? Will you wish for things to go your way, or will yourself to find the opportunity?

Keep flying higher!

Scott

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