Step Into "What's Next" with Integrity and Intention
“For all that I do, whether on my own or assisted by another, should be directed to this single end, the common benefit and harmony.” - Marcus Aurelius
You care. And, of course, you've done your best. You've been understanding and kind. You've loaned advice and offered help. But none of it has worked. So now, all that's left, is to play your trump card...,
"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." - Viktor Frankl
Whoa! Before you get all self-righteous, draw your line in the sand, and launch the "good" fight, maybe take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself a few tough questions.
Did you do your best, or only what was expedient? Was it understanding and kindness on offer or perhaps just enabling? Was it advice and help on loan, or simply lip service? Was it their well-being...
It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows." - Epictetus
We are driven by our beliefs. We live by them and die for them. And far too often we cleave to them in the face of evidence that they are not absolutes or even true. We believe that our beliefs define who we are and seek out those who believe what we believe and turn up our nose at, or even rail against, those who do not. But here's the thing...,
beliefs are bogus.
Not always, of course, but far more often than we care to admit. Sadly, these bogus beliefs are usually the ones we cling to most desperately. And this dynamic is doing immense harm to our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. It's destroying our relationships and, indeed, the planet on which we live.
What to do? It's time we seek out what really defines us. Our values speak to who we truly are.
What's the Difference?
Beliefs are nothing more than opinion or conviction. An internal feeling that...
If you have a minute, I’d like to tell you a quick story.
If you check out Creative On Purpose on Amazon, you’ll probably take note of this 5-star review.
“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.” Seth Godin
Yes, that review came from the Seth Godin. Seth is the best-selling author of Purple Cow and 17 other books, the creator of the altMBA and The Marketing Seminar, and the longest-running and most read blogger I know.
He’s also one of my heroes.
“How Did You Get Seth Godin to Review Your Handbook?”
I get this question a lot!
The truth is, I didn’t “get” Seth to do anything! I never even asked him to look at my Handbook!
A Bit of Back Story
I am an altMBA6 graduate and was invited by Seth to participate in the first run of The Marketing Seminar in the summer of 2017....
“We can proudly use price as a signal to tell people what we think about what we sell.” Seth Godin, The Marketing Seminar
What’s It For?
That thing you’re making. That service you provide. That idea you have. What’s it for? What’s your motivation for sharing it? Who’s it for? What’s your intended impact?
Here are some considerations. Do you want people to appreciate it or value it?Are you looking for engagement or enrollment? Are you seeking their interest or their investment?
Free Vs. Paid
Free attracts appreciation, engagement, and interest, but rarely leads to perceived value, active enrollment, or meaningful investment. Free attracts browsers, not buyers. If what you create has value, works better when users are engaged, and is enhanced through the investment made by users, then giving it away is doing far more harm than good. It’s confusing both you, the producer, and you prospective consumer.
If it’s valuable, why are...
What if you did great work? What if you performed at a higher level? What if you served the right people? What if you worked with and learned directly from those who inspire you?
These are the questions I ask myself. I feel guilty asking them. I do, after all, already do work I love as a professional guitarist and teacher. It's meaningful work and I enjoy the people I work with. Why challenge what’s clearly working well enough?
People Like Us Do Things Like This
That's it. If you believe in achieving excellence in any endeavor, including being the best human being you can possibly be, what you've already achieved is never enough. You're always asking yourself, "What else?" or "What's next?"
You think about it. You talk about it. You try things. Eventually "what else" or "what's next" starts to come into focus. And suddenly you find yourself doing that.
For me, it was writing The Stoic Creative Handbook. A work dedicated to helping struggling Creatives become...
Yes, I know you’re terribly busy. So much to do and so little time. There are not enough hours in the day.
Are you buying this BS?
Time is not the issue. It’s taste. Where and how are you spending your most valuable resource? What are you spending time on and with whom?
Is it the important stuff like developing your craft? Creating connection? Sharing value with those who need you to show up and deliver the goods?
Take a minute and reflect on what is important to you and what your good at. Who shares your values and needs your talents? What is the one thing you could do or make that would impact these people?
Go. Do or make that. Do it now.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. It shouldn’t be big and complicated. It mustn’t require a long explanation.
Keep it simple. Try it out. Watch the reaction. Listen to the response. Think it over. Iterate. Then try again.
It’s simple. But simple isn’t easy.
What Are You Waiting For?
The ducks will align themselves. You don’t even own a ship. And, when was the last time you took the time to check on the planets?
Time is everyone’s most valuable resource. You’re never going to have more of it than you do right now. Why are you wasting it?
In every moment of every day, you are in the act of dying. You're dying right now!
The time is now. Now is the time.
Marcus’ reminder says it all:
“Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now, take what’s left and live it properly. What doesn’t transmit light creates its own darkness.”
So, which will you do next; transmit light or create your own darkness?
Choose well. If you don’t, the choice will be made for you.
"Actions Speak Louder Than Words"
At least that's what my mama always told me. But over the years I've decided that this is not such great advice. Sure, we should walk the walk and not just talk the talk, but what are we talking and walking for in the first place?!
"A Man's Character Is His Fate."
These are the translated words of the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus. He's long been a go-to dispenser-of-wisdom on how to live well. Heraclitus was a major influence on another source of timeless wisdom; the last of the late great Stoic philosophers, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Heraclitus and Marcus both have much to say on human nature and how to navigate the messy milieu that is human interaction. Both came to the conclusion that neither what we say nor what we do is of much significance. What really matters is who we are. In other words (Martin Luther King Jr.'s for instance), what is the "content of our character?" Or as the Stoics would say, our Virtue....
Embracing Stoic Determinism
I was hung up on it for years. I’ve heard popular Stoic advocates like Ryan Holiday express the same reservation. Many who embrace the principles and practices of Modern Stoicism just can’t, or rather won’t, accept that their life is fated.
“Luck is not something you can mention in the presence of self-made men.” ― E.B. White
We come to the idea of being above fate honestly. If you’re American, it’s part of your cultural birthright. An inherent tenet of the “American Dream” is the idea of “the self-made man.” Of course, your mileage may vary, but if you were born white, male, and even of modest privilege in the good ol’ USA you’ve likely never questioned the idea that you determine your destiny.
But do you…?
Historically, the image of the self-made man or woman involved “pluck,” or the summoning up of courage or boldness. Pluck was required because if...
“Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now, take what’s left and live it properly” — Marcus Aurelius
“You should remember, that you were born to die… ” — Blind Willie McTell
Are You Ready to Die?
How you answer that question depends on more than your age, condition, or situation. Your answer reflects your attitude and position on what it means to live a good life.
“Life is just a pilgrimage from the womb to the tomb.” — Cornel West
Ben Franklin famously stated, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” However, it is quite possible, even easy, to cheat or even avoid taxation. We can not say the same of death. Upon our exit from the womb, as Cornel West has more eloquently spoken, the only outcome that is assured is that our corpse will become worm food.
The ancient Greeks...