Lessons & Resources for Finding Fulfillment Doing Work that Matters
“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...
“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’ill 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...
I run at the cemetery as a daily memento mori. A reflection on mortality. "Remember you die." It's an opportunity to contemplate the journey from "womb to tomb" into which Cornel West reminds us we are born.
My cemetery run ritual reminds me of the transience of earthly things and the futility of ego attachments.
It's a call to return to the hic et nunc (here and now), and do the work I was born for. The work of being a human being. Cultivating character. Enhancing the lives of others.
What do you think? Is it possible that contemplating your death might inspire you to start living well?
I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Until next time, keep flying higher!
Of all the lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn), the biggest have intersected with my struggle with understanding and employing empathy. A struggle I only began coming to terms with when I added a chapter on it to The Stoic Creative ebook.
The punchline, or rather the truth as I see it, is that empathy begins with yourself. If you cannot connect with your feelings and see, hear, understand, and forgive yourself, then you are incapable of doing so sincerely and authentically with others. Until then your relationship with others and yourself suffer.
To say I’m a lapsed Catholic would be an insult to lapsed Catholics, but when I hear (and recite), first Corinthians, I get a glimpse of the divine. In you, in her, in him, in me, in nature and in the cosmos. And I begin to think that I just might be getting closer to an empathic understanding and appreciation. And this has “saved” me many times from the unhelpful, harmful, and hateful stories I...
Marianne Williamson's quote is a compelling call for us to tap into our curiosity and courage and live bigger and in service to others. It lets us know that we are enough as we are while reminding us that we have unfulfilled promise to develop and deliver.
"Your playing small does not serve the world."
Please don't play small. We need you.
Scott shares a 3-minute read intended to encourage you to fly higher.