Something I am taking away from the political process this year is to avoid settling. It’s also been a theme for me, personally.
For background, I’ve settled my whole adult life, whether it has been with politics, jobs or partners. Even with little things like pants I’ve settled way too many times, having become resigned to too-long hems and flimsy zippers.
All of that settling has sucked my vibrancy. It has made me shallower, paler and smaller. I fall apart, easily.
Not settling, on the other hand, is only possible when you have faith. Not settling demands an unwavering moral compass.
I can tell you what not settling is not: It’s not rigidity.
No. It’s surprisingly fluid and firm. Like plasma, not settling can match the shape of what ever it’s around, but it’s not going to evaporate.
It’s calm and comfortable, yet distinct. It makes a statement no matter where it shows up. It gets noticed.
Like plasma, we don’t need to shrink our visions to fit into what reality presents us. We can expand our dreams and take the steps to change how our reality looks.
No more. I won’t have it anymore. Neither will millions of you.
Radical comes from the Latin ‘radicalis,’ which means ‘root.’
To be radical is to get at the roots.
To clean everything out to get to the core.
To find out what we’re here for.
At first, it will look like a mess. It will disrupt other “rooms.” It will cause much stress.
But once you re-discover that nugget that has always lit you up, you’ll know what your next “next” is. Then your room will look better as a result.
So, be radical on a daily basis. Consider it a genesis.
It’s the only way I see to a rich life.
Momentum is an attractive force. Once you’re riding the wave, other waves show up.
What usually stops people is that once they’ve won or gained something, they get excited and lose perspective. They literally can’t think straight because of the frenetic energy of experiencing the win.
So it’s natural that someone asking, “What’s next?” would stress you out. You’re attached to how everything goes.
What if “What’s next?” could bring you to a calmer, elevated place? A place from which you could see how this win fit into your life, so you could keep going?
Being unattached and elevated after you celebrate a win creates space for you to look for the next thing you can take on.
And with that energy, you can actually move forward. Pleasantly.
Perhaps the question shouldn’t be when you should next close the deal, but how you’ll be about it so you can close another.
You’re walking down the street and as you’re deep in a daydreamy state, you’re hit with a whiff of reality: Melting summertime garbage has pervaded the air of a whole city block.
For a few moments, you’re miserable. Oh, so gross. Don’t breathe. Keep walking.
Think of all the moments you’re miserable: On your commute, walking in painful shoes that supposedly make you look good, or breathless on Garbage Day.
Now think of how all these tiny irritations make life intolerable when they add up over the course of the day.
Pooled together, these paper cuts become a gash in your experience of life.
That’s what it feels like when we let tiny irritations affect our state of mind.
The experience is of being unable to tolerate the funk, the sweat or the pain. Or becoming so practiced at holding your breath that you numb out to the present and miss the gifts of the experience.
The good news? You don’t have to feel this way.
You get to choose to rise above it.
You get to create space between you and the worrisome thing.
You get to set it aside.
Use what ever analogy works for you to liberate yourself from misery.
You can have a good life now, in the funk.
Just because everyone else does something doesn’t mean you have to do that thing.
Just because something is free doesn’t mean you have to use it.
Just because people have ears doesn’t mean you have to speak.
We’ve got plenty of noise with the Internet. What continues to be scarce is connection and trust.
Be judicious in how you use your energy and in how you spread your message.
I used to despise multitasking. I thought that anyone who wanted people to multitask was inhumane.
The truth is that when you’re working on anything, you don’t usually have one thing to worry about. You’ve got five problems to solve or four clients to serve, and they’re all at different points in their process.
You obviously can’t just focus on one problem or one client because once you’re done solving or serving, you’re not going to have anything left to work on.
Nothing to work on = no money = hunger + homelessness. You don’t want that.
So what is multitasking? It’s the art of resiliency and elevated thought and connectedness and compassion.
I think of child-rearing when I think of how important being able to multi-task is.
If you have three kids and one of them has autism, it does take more energy and resources to raise that one child. But if you ignored the other two healthy kids beyond feeding and clothing them, you’d eventually have two other problems on your hands. Each kid needs specialized attention and you don’t know what they need until you invest in getting connected and curious about each of them.
It’s the same way with clients. You can focus on the one client who needs your attention in ways you’re not used to giving. But then you still need to check in with your other clients to see what they need today.
All it takes is a few minutes of laser-focused attention. Don’t wait until tomorrow because someone else can fill the gap you’ve created with your lack of attention.
Make it your practice to not only wonder about your people, but to pick up the phone and call them, too.
It’s really easy to get riled up about how someone is evolving.
Maybe they’re getting closer to Jesus.
Or maybe they’re spinning out, checking out and taking psychedelic drugs.
Or maybe they’re curled up in a closet.
Or maybe they’re doing something else altogether.
Let people have their evolution. Their way.
The space you give to fretting and being righteous takes away the opportunity for you to be curious about how they’ll really end up. It takes away the opportunity for you to grow more patient and considerate, so that other people’s peculiar processes don’t bother you after a while.
And so that you have the space to do your growing, and all of the funny business associated with that experience.
I’ve grown weary of taking self-assessments, quizzes to better understand what kind of businessperson I am, and other such things.
I’m big on learning more about myself. I love insight.
But like many people, I can keep gathering more information about myself. And not a thing can change.
This is what you need to know: Insight isn’t enough.
The only way we’ll create a new future for ourselves is if we hold ourselves accountable to our visions by taking new actions that catapult us.
We must ask: “With this new awareness, what is the first step I can take to move me in the direction I’d like to go?”
Or it could go something like: “Okay, this thing didn’t work. This is why. What could I do in this moment to create what I’d like?”
You’d ask these questions as part of a cycle of trial-and-error. If you persist, you’ll figure some thing out. A year from now, if you’re still holding yourself accountable, life will look much closer to your vision.
But what may surprise you is it could look more fantastic than you had imagined.
“People are rewarded in public for what they practice for years in private.” — Tony Robbins
It was the final game of the Women’s World Cup.
The U.S. women’s soccer team was way ahead of their opponents by scoring the first three goals in 16 minutes.
What I noticed is with such a great lead, they could have stopped on Sunday night.
But they kept going.
And they did it with the same level of energy, from start to finish.
And with the same enthusiasm, from start to finish.
And their follow-through paid off: They ended up scoring two more goals, winning 5-2 against Japan.
To be that way — to keep going after it seemed they’d probably win — took practice. I bet they practiced that off the field by cultivating the habit of being unstoppable.
As Carli Lloyd, a star midfielder, said in an ESPN piece, “I learned that I can’t switch off, that I’ve got to put my foot to the pedal and never take it off.”
That’s why it seemed normal for all of them to keep going when they showed up on the field, in front of thousands of spectators and millions of viewers.
So, it makes sense to wonder where you and I stop.
And where we could keep going.
And how we’re going to go about being unstoppable.
And what would end up being normal for us as a result.
And why we’d never want to stop.
“If anything, this was a relaxing term… I never stayed up late. I never ground through material. I kept attacking it fresh, with high energy, time and time again.” — Cal Newport
The above quote is from a blog post a computer scientist wrote about how he aced a class in a seemingly difficult subject: discrete mathematics.
Basically, he chipped away at the math problems each day until he nailed the concepts.
Most of us don’t perform tedious math problems, so what does this have to do with you… and me?
Recently, I’d been struggling for a few weeks because I didn’t have the energy to write.
Note that I wrote “energy,” not “time.” I’m aware I have plenty of free time outside of my new gig. Because I started on a new track, I chose to devote all of my energy to learning. I knew it would be a while before I began blogging again.
One day, after running between appointments and feeling energized by my current line of work, I found myself unwilling to sit down and write a blog post. This isn’t the first time, I’ve been unwilling to do anything.
If I kept blogging just because it was some rule I made up, I’d need to be unstoppable. Like a psychopath.
But I’d probably be unhappy, too.
The good news is I’ve got just enough mind training through my coaching work to get clear about my intentions: I’m devoted to my blog.
And I’m clear on what’s in my way: Blogging started to seem like work, instead of the satisfying experience of expressing myself and connecting with others.
And then a thought occurred: “What could I do?”
That’s a poignant question because I can always produce a bit of work in what ever I am pursuing, no matter how jammed my weeks are.
So, what could I do? I could get up a little earlier in the morning and write on a tiny angle that has been on my mind.
I don’t know if this will work every day, but I’m not going to think about that. All I know is: It worked today because I took on the work with vigor, and as though it was a fresh task.
I took it on with that level of energy because I know none of this work ever ends. The key is to learn to enjoy it, in all its monotony and lack of glory.
Chipping away — bit by bit — provides its own pleasure.
It becomes meditative.
It normalizes what used to feel difficult.
And then you get to see how much you’re progressing, which keeps you going.
So, when you’re struggling with doing what moves you, ask: What could I do to chip away, bit by bit?
For more on the joy of chipping away, read Austin Kleon’s piece about why artists need to watch “Groundhog Day.”