Step Into "What's Next" with Integrity and Intention
It's commencement season. One period of life ends, another begins. How are you helping the "graduates" in your life to step into possibility and potential?
Most of us work for a living and we spend a chunk of our lives doing that work. Yet most of us don't much get advice or guidance about choosing that work with intention and integrity.
Some of us spend a lot of time "occupied" in work that neither excites nor fulfills us. How can you help the graduates you know avoid this? How can you help someone discover and develop work that nurtures and nourishes them? How can you do this yourself?
Here are a few tips I'm sharing with the graduates in my life:
It’s spring in Southwestern Virginia. Time to make some important decisions about what flowers to plant in the beds around our small home, annuals or perennials?
Here’s the thing. Annuals bloom only once, but they’re brighter, showier, cheaper, and require less care than perennials.
Perennials, on the other hand, return and continue to grow season after season. They have structure. Perennials are more hardy and resilient than annuals. Perennials are able to mature.
Annuals are “one-hit-wonders.” Perennials are in it for the long haul.
Annual or perennial, which are you?
Let’s keep flying higher together!
I find a "to-do" list to be a seductive way to "hide" from the "real" work I need to do. What about you?
Too often my to-do list is full of non-essential tasks like "organize my top desk drawer." Just as often, my to-do list is made up of outright distractions or tasks that get done "automatically" and don't require being listed at all.
What helps me move forward in meaningful endeavors is a "must-do" list. This is a one-item list. The one next best small step forward into the change I seek to make. One thing that, when accomplished, will serve as a large lever ratcheting me and my enterprise forward.
Everything else gets put onto my "stop-doing" list and is ignored until my must-do list of one is done.
What's on your must-do list? What will you move to your stop-doing list until what must be done get's done?
Let's keep flying higher together!
How do you reply to queries that come up in the everyday exchange of pleasantries? You know, questions like "How are you?" or "How's everything going?"
My response is "Perfect in every way."
Am I a Pollyanna or just delusional? I mean really, even the magical Mary Poppins was only "Practically perfect in every way!"
Let me explain. I know I'm not perfect in every way and neither is "everything." But at the moment that someone asks me how I am or how everything is going, I am who and where I am. And I find both myself and the circumstances "perfect in every way" simply because they are as they are.
And in the moment I'm answering these questions is my opportunity to frame who I am and how things are. I can then make an assertion about who I want to be and how I can make things better. Then I am afforded the gift of being able to choose the next best step forward into those possibilities.
I will, of course, do all of this imperfectly. "Everything" will not turn out as...
I was initially introduced to the concept of sonder by Seth Godin.
Sonder is defined as that moment when you realize that everyone around you has an internal life as rich and as conflicted as yours.
Sonder brings to mind the Stoic practice of not judging others too harshly when they speak ignorantly or behave badly.
“To feel affection for people even when they make mistakes is uniquely human. You can do it if you simply recognize: that they’re human too, that they act out of ignorance, against their will, and that you’ll both be dead before long. And, above all, that they haven’t really hurt you. They haven’t diminished your ability to choose.” - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 7.22
Your actions are informed by your beliefs which are in turn informed by your observations and experience. All of this filtered through your inner narrative and drive for “self-preservation.”
Accepting that we’re all imperfect beings doing the best we...
Who are you? Who do you seek to serve? Who are your collaborators? Who’s in your tribe? Who are your fellow travelers?
These questions are worth asking with intention and answering with integrity at the beginning of any worthwhile enterprise. Get the “who” right and you’ve done “the hard part” first. The what, where, and even the why of the work you're meant to do now will reveal themselves more quickly and clearly when you’re working with the “right” people.
Great ideas, vision, and community can fulfill their promise only when you're surrounded by great people.
Before you decide what you want to do and where you want to go, it’s important to remember that the journey almost always takes longer than you think and you may end up somewhere different than you first intend. It’s easier to change what you’re working on or toward with the “right” people." The “right” people don’t...
“What’s it for?”
Embracing this question is at the heart of every Seth Godin program. Why?
Answering the question, “What’s it for?” helps you determine if what you’re about to do or say is worth your time and talents and those of the people you seek to serve through your thoughts and actions.
When you answer the question, “What’s it for?”, you’re stating an assertion whose “trueness” you seek to test. You're not merely reverse engineering a narrative to prove what you already believe to be true.
The practice of asking “What’s it for?” is a powerful lever for the thoughtful and professional creative to ratchet in service of the change you seek to make.
It's not, of course, an either or question. There's certainly a time and place for both hope and faith.
Hope is a desire for a favorable future outcome.
Hope is passive. Hope happens to you.
If you've been shipwrecked and are drifting about the Pacific in a leaky liferaft, hope may well stave off despair until a tanker stumbles across and rescues you. But if you open a restaurant in town and merely hope that people come to dine, well that's just dumb.
Hope is not a strategy. It can, however, be an effective tactic that helps get you through a tough time.
Faith is trust that things happen "as they should."
Faith encourages deliberate action. Faith happens through you.
If you want to learn a language or to play an instrument, it's perfectly reasonable to have faith in your ability to do so. Having faith that good things will happen for you simply because you behave like a good person is a bit delusional.
Faith is not a tactic. It is an effective strategic filter...
Last time, I discussed the virtues of "going." Today, I share the value of pausing.
There's no authentication for the source, but this is a favorite quote of mine.
"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is your power to choose your response. And, in your response lies your growth and your freedom." - Viktor Frankl
To be clear, there are circumstances when stimulus leads directly to response without a chance of pausing. If I step on a garter snake in the garden there will be instant screaming, leaping, and hyperventilating. In situations like this, stimulus goes straight to the amygdala and initiates the fight or flight response immediately.
But even in cases that at first bypass the neocortex (where conscious thought resides), at some point you can stop, reflect, and frame your experience. And in any situation where there's a possibility of consideration, such as a conversation or email exchange, you have the power to insert a...
“As the gardener, by severe pruning, forces the sap of the tree into one or two vigorous limbs, so should you stop off your miscellaneous activity and concentrate your force on one or a few points.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
It's been years since we sold the farm where my wife and I raised our boys. We also raised chickens, dogs, cats, gardens, and more than a few eyebrows there. But the centerpiece was the small apple orchard.
Our farm was blessed with an abundance of fruit trees and berry bushes. The real treasure was a collection of dwarf apple trees that were grafts of stock that came from Thomas Jefferson's orchards at Monticello. These heirloom apple varieties had captivating names like "Arkansas Black," "Cox's Orange Pippin," "Duchess of Oldenburg," "Roxbury Russet," "Spitzenburg," "Stayman Winesap," and "Liberty."
I can't possibly describe how delicious these apples tasted. Imagine how an organic apple bought at the supermarket tastes...