Step Into "What's Next" with Integrity and Intention
I've earned my living from playing music on stages large and small. Sometimes for festival audiences of thousands, sometimes to the sound of one fan clapping in a small club. Along the way, I learned a few lessons that inspire and inform other life endeavors. Here are my top 10 lessons learned from the stage that apply to living "the good life."
Marcus Aurelius is often called the last of the “good emperors” of the Roman Empire. A man who stood above questioning who questioned himself daily. Marcus’ reminders to himself about the importance of virtue and justice inspire me and many others to this day.
“To live the good life. We have the potential for it. If we can learn to be indifferent to what makes no difference.” — Marcus Aurelius
What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be happy? These are questions we’ve asked ourselves since the dawn of time. Many of us are overwhelmed by such questions. But here, Marcus reminds himself of his agency over his perceptions, thoughts, and actions and therefore the power he has to maintain his sense of well-being in any situation or circumstance.
In this quote, Marcus is reminding himself of a lesson from one of the ancient world’s greatest teachers, Epictetus: “It isn’t events themselves that disturb...
"Is it time to say 'Goodbye?'"
I ask this question often since the arrival of spring. It's really powerful for "pruning" unnecessary clutter from my life and helping me be more "present" for the work and people in my life that matter.
"We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then,
is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle
For instance, I said "Goodbye" to several social media accounts and forums. I said "Sayonara" to my daily coffee habit and glass of wine in addition to sugar and wheat. As a result, I said "adiós" to 10 pounds (with 10 more to go).
I said, "Auf wiedersehen" to the few remaining unhealthy relationships I hadn't yet had the courage to end. I said "Au revoir" to a long list of "opportunities" that were only getting in the way of the work I really love to do.
"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can
start from now and make a brand new ending." - Marcus Aurelius
Saying "Goodbye" isn't always a sad occasion. Especially when...
Although the words emotions and feelings are often used interchangeably, they are very different beasts. Feelings and emotions should not be confused. Emotions precede feelings, both in evolutionary development and in your daily life. However, while emotional responses are instinctual, normal, and healthy, attachment to them often is not.
Emotions Happen to You
Emotions come uninvited or unexpected. A flash of anger when someone cuts you off in traffic. The sudden joy you feel when your child takes her first steps. A surge of jealousy when your partner glances at an attractive passerby. Surprise at an unanticipated compliment. A pang of guilt after you've yelled at your child.
These are naturally occurring, brief, physical responses to stimuli that are hardwired within your limbic system. These impulses bypass your neocortex, where your capacity for reason and language reside.
It's almost impossible, and highly ill-advised,...
Do You Know That You’re Lying?
“Let’s start with a quick poll. Raise your hand if you’re a Creative. Great! If your hand is raised, put it back down. Now, raise your hand if you’re not a Creative. That's interesting. Keep your hand raised. Alright, if your hand is raised, keep it raised if you know you’re lying…!”
This poll is how I open my workshops on becoming a “bulletproof creative” (aka a Thriving Artist). The results are always about the same. One-third raise their hands to the opening query, another third to the next, and the final third to the last (often with nervous laughter).
We Are All Creatives
Here’s the deal: everyone is a Creative. A Creative is simply someone who brings something into the world that didn’t previously exist. Every time you make a meal, make a mess, or make amends, you’ve engaged in an act of creation. Creating is an everyday human activity.
Whether you’re a musician,...
I had the great privilege of speaking with Seth Godin for a second time on the Creative On Purpose Broadcast recently. He packed our short time together with a ton of knowledge and insight. But one of the most profound moments was what Seth said about the perils of attachment for creatives (people like us).
I’ve been thinking about this ever since our conversation ended and sharing a few “aha moments” I didn’t see or articulate when Seth suggested I lead off our discussion.
You know the type. Earnest civilian crosses the aisle or the parking lot, hand extended to someone in military uniform or wearing a retiree’s ball cap.
“Thank you for your service.”
Yeah, that’s me.
The gratitude is heartfelt and the gesture sincere. But I’ve been insensitive.
In working with military service personnel and those who love and support them, I’ve learned that the TYFYS gesture often makes the recipient uneasy and it comes across as a bit hollow.
Recognition is great. Action would be far more meaningful.
And then there’s my bigger offense. I never turn to the left or right of the person whose hand I’m clasping to say to the person by their side, “And thank you for your service, too.”
It’s never even occurred to me.
That’s changed since I led a workshop in goal setting for a group of military spouses.
To prepare for the workshop, I interviewed military...
Are you feeling dissatisfied or frustrated with the work you do now? Feel like you’re not developing or engaging your full potential in whatever endeavor you’re employed? Not executing your full promise?
Maybe you’re wondering, “What’s next?” “What is the work I’m meant to do now?” “What is the work that will help me experience more well-being and fulfillment?”
If these are the kind of questions swirling around your head, you may be tempted to fall into an all-too-familiar trap, pursuing your passion.
What Is “Passion?”
Passion is a result of doing engaging and meaningful work. Passion is not a proper or advisable reason for doing that work.
The path you seek isn’t found on a map. The position you’re searching for is not going to be advertised and no one is going to “pick” you to do it. The work you seek will be earned through persistence and intention coupled with aspiration...
Creating is simply the act of making something new. However, simple doesn’t mean easy. The creative process can be lonely, intimidating, and fraught with self-doubt. Then comes the hard part...sharing what you made with others.
Do I Have to Share?
That depends. We’re all creatives. We make things, right? We make conversation. We make plans. We make promises, and we make babies. We have absolutely no problem making or sharing these creations. However, when we intentionally create something that will evoke a reaction or even a transformation in others, when we start acting like artists, things change.
Therein lies the rub. All artists are creatives, but not all creatives are artists. Artists create with intention and motivation. They put their creation out into the world. They ship and they deliver the goods.
Artists must share their creations. That's the only way they will get the feedback required to develop and improve their art. Aspiring and advancing artists must...
“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...