I am About to Do Something Remarkable

After an early start and a great run, I headed to the office and pounded out a spreadsheet and projections (not my favorite stuff) and then made a dash to the bank. On the way back I noticed a young guy, smiling and bouncing towards me on the sidewalk. Emblazoned across his t-shirt was ” I am About to Do Something Awesome!” I smiled, he smiled bigger and here I am thinking about choosing remarkable over mediocre. What do I need to make happen today that will lead to awesome rather than ordinary?

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The t doesn’t work if it says ” Watch me do something Ordinary!” I was considering some options this weekend and weighing pros and cons regarding the next steps. I was wavering on a continuum from extremely plain to excitedly risky with a dozen stops in between. For most of yesterday, I was leaning towards the mediocre end of the scale.  Disclaimer – my mediocre isn’t as tame as others. I/we were considering becoming a nomads for a couple of years. Renting out our places and hitting the road being drawn to our next location by a house sitting opportunity. That turns out to be something for another day. The t-shirt reminded me that I only get to live this life once and if I deny the gifts and opportunities in my path, It is a tragedy. Those gifts and opportunities should have been given to someone else.

So I am about to do something remarkable. About means starting today and over the next year, do means build a business and market, something means a platform and funding, and remarkable means strengthen others (as it always does).

Since I started writing this post, I have been interrupted 3 times with calls that while not directly related to the new project (Buddy2Buddy Club) confirmed that I am intended to tackle something big and wrestle with it rather than snuggle into a comfortable lazy life.

Make Today Remarkable, by doing something awesome, now.

B

Until the Truth is Forgotten

I was listening to ” How to Fly a Horse” by Kevin Ashton this morning. He tells the story of an African slave who figured out how to assist orchids in their self pollination and thus created a vanilla industry. His master initially gave him credit but the story soon, because of cultural norms, shifted to the master teaching the slave who taught other slaves. The powerful created their own truth when they couldn’t explain how a slave could figure out a solution to a problem they had faced for decades. Eventually historians recognized that there were inconsistencies and through research discovered that Edmond Albus was the slave who launched the vanilla industry.

Ashton’s point in ” How to Fly a Horse” is to demonstrate that invention and genius comes from relentless monotonous actions and observing and adapting to the conclusions. My point is that truth is malleable not immutable.  How many Edmonds never received credit for their contributions to the world because of their race or gender? How many legends just stepped in and appropriated credit for something they didn’t invent?

What other truths do we  hold that have been created and recreated to support other truths that were universally accepted even though they may be false? Maybe the way we use the word truth creates the problem – many think it is synonymous with fact ( another idea that is far more malleable  than we are comfortable to admit). What if truth is closer to believe or understand or feel? I often use a disclaimer when telling stories to an audience ” I don’t know if this really happened but I know it is true”. I am suggesting that the essence is where true has power rather than in veracity, authenticity, accuracy, or certainty. There are things that I can prove, based on a conjecture that passes a burden today. There are things that I know because of the sum of my experience and education.  There are things that are true because I know them to be – know them not in my head but in my heart.

 

If you find yourself declaring a truth, check where it is rising up from. If your ego, ask why do I feel so insecure that I need to shine in this moment. If your education identifies with the statement, remember the vanilla industry and the millions of other manufactured truths. If you just know something to be right, you are likely  on a path that is worth exploring.

 

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The Choice

Fear is a choice – I can be afraid and paralyzed or I can be afraid and act. The test isn’t being fearless it is being courageous. I heard Jamie Clarke @JC_Climbs and Suzanne West @IamSuzanneWest speak today about failure and the mountain climbing adventurer confessed that he wavers from cowardice to courage in situations that have too many variables. Some days he courts failure as a lover so he can learn from her and other days he hides from her because she can be cruel and unrelenting in seeking accountability. When he faces her she teaches him important lessons.

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Suzanne, who is one of the most self aware people I know, is courageous in her actions, big and brash in her approach and relentless in learning from her failures. They are both inspired by people who are courageous against all odds – Nelson Mandella, Martin Luther King, Laurie Kresslet… Fear is a choice – easy to say, harder to do. Making a choice to move when the mistress is coaxing you to hide, urging you to retreat, inviting you to make excuses is really hard. But when you opt to act, her power wains and yours increases. Even if you fail after facing a fear, you are better off than failing to act and living with the fear and the unknown.

I choose to let fear compromise me sometimes. On the days that I only give 75% (really anything less than 100%), I am preparing a justification for not reaching the goal. “Well I didn’t really work that hard.” as if to justify the limited progress. Fear and failure are about limits. Fear sets a limit, usually way inside our maximum performance or ability and then convinces us not to near that line in the sand. Failure is an accumulation of errors until you reach a limit. If you have an exam in front of you and you haven’t done the preparation. Fear might say ” If you get 60%, that is okay” Failure occurs when you answer too many questions incorrectly and the accumulation drops the percentage below a prescribed pass/fail level.

What if we approached tests, prepared and ready, but also prepared and ready to accept nothing less than our best effort and prepared and ready to learn how you can approach the next exam? Would we move closer to our best? Are you demanding the best from yourself? Is anyone seeing your best work? If the answer is “no” then you might have something to really fear. And another choice to make.

I know I write a lot about risk, courage and taking action. Know that these posts are as much for me as for you.

Make Today Remarkable, by acknowledging fear and acting anyway,
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The Power of a Myth

Mythology exists in all aspects of our life. We believe we are a country of intelligent, entrepreneurial, caring, radical individualists who come together to share our resources and skills and make the world a better place. It likely doesn’t matter where you live, The myth of people and place is pretty powerful. And there is some truth in every myth.
We listen to our Genesis stories; as people, cities, companies and celebrate them by rewriting them to fit our current expectations, mores, attitudes and regrets. The adaptability and flexibility of our stories reflects that we understand that they may never have happened but are definitely true.

My myths keep me safe, keep me calm, help me stay rooted and inspire me. I have absorbed some from my kin and their strange Scottish Scandinavian practices and history. I was taught some from my grandmother and mother that form the basis for my morality and responsibility. I have crafted a few myths myself so I am able to continue doing what I do and to justify my actions in the face of resistance. As the narratives become embedded they earn mythology status, for a time. They are relative to an audience that is predisposed to the lesson. Christians lean towards and love Christian narratives although most zealots would be uncomfortable with the myth reference since they see the stories as complete and inerrant.

There are myths about the glories of capitalism that supporters love and myths that deride and denigrate capitalism that detractors love. Myth – Under capitalism, anyone who works hard can succeed. Myth – Under capitalism only those with a silver spoon get to eat from the golden dish. Sometimes the myth is accepted by both perspectives but for completely different reasons. Myth – We are all in the same boat.

I was raised with a protestant work ethic with tinges of puritan morals so shaking those off and seeing the world with more joy, hope and optimism was a long process and there are days that the baggage rears its head as a defense mechanism against an idea, a party, a person who I disagree with. When I am struggling to understand I can twist and turn my personal narratives with all kinds of logical fallacies. I see injustice when none exists, I hear slander in feedback, I taste opposition in diversity but on the days that I trust and hope (another area of mythology) I grow in all those circumstances.

Myth, as a social construct, is most often destructive as we are seeing in a current election campaign. The myths of race, gender, ethnicity, orientation, money creates sides and factions. And when you choose a team or are picked for a team loyalty overwhelms our senses. I have found myself accepting and then defending something that didn’t sit right because it was part of the team’s narrative. Political parties and religious factions have notorious influence on the common sense and common decency of adherents. When the narrative creates a them and us, it is time to deconstruct it and hold it up to the brightest light because it is likely in service of an agenda that is self serving and selfish.

I love myths, ancient and modern. Like the heroes of ancient myths, modern superheroes have extraordinary powers. The most famous superhero is Superman, created by American cartoonists Jerry Siegel and Joseph Shuster in 1938. In comics and on radio, television, and movie screens, he fights for “truth, justice, and the American way,” using his powers of flight and incredible strength, powers he possesses because he is from another planet. Like most modern superheroes, Superman keeps his identity a secret and pretends to be an ordinary man. Such myths suggest that anyone can have unsuspected potential for heroism.

Make Today Remarkable, because you believe the myth that you are,

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The Gift of Fear

“I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.”
– Nadia Comaneci

fear is a liar

If someone who overcame every day, tried harder and became one of the best gymnasts of all time can trample big fears surely we can stomp out ours by charging ahead and taking them on. I am not suggesting that we take dangerous and crazy risks just to prove we are brave but I think we all can learn to face down our fears by facing them, acknowledging them and still moving forward.

I have written about intentional versus organic often, some may say ad nauseum and believe that nothing happens without deliberate action. But intention without action is as empty as waiting for the world to change or improve on its own. So if you are facing fears, anxiety or uncertainty you can’t just intend to face them – because you won’t. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153), wrote more than 1000 years ago “Hell is full of good intentions or desires.” The quote is often mistakenly attributed to Samuel Johnson because James Boswell in “The Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D.” ,1791, records that “No saint, however, in the course of his religious warfare, was more sensible of the unhappy failure of pious resolves, than Johnson. He said one day, talking to an acquaintance on this subject, “Sir Hell is paved with good intentions.”

Nancy Bouwens in “3 Ways Facing Fear Will Make You Brave” offers these steps;

1. Take the first step while still afraid. Hesitation is the enemy, it holds you in the current state and makes excuses for not acting.

2. Brave means standing your ground. Once you have taken the first step retreat isn’t an option. Internal forces and external ‘threats’ will try to make you back down. If you do, know that you are defeated.

3. Brave means not giving in. Overcoming fear isn’t a one step process. You may be afraid in certain situations for a long time. But quitting isn’t a small step backward, it is a return to the trap and paralysis.

Courage is the opposite of conformity and when we are courageous we are at our best.

Make Today Remarkable, by being afraid and acting anyway,

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5/25 Rule

I surprisingly had never heard of the 5/25 rule until a cursory reference in  Medium blog post I read this morning.  After some Google research (I now it isn’t pure science so I shouldn’t call it research) I discovered enough to create a paraphrase.

Warren Buffett’s 5-Step Process for Prioritizing True Success

1. Know what you want – List your top 25.  List the top 25 things you to do in the next 1000 day.s Just jot down anything that comes to mind as being important to you that isn’t currently a part of your life. (I will take today to create my list).

2. Pick your Top 5.  Review each item and circle the top five that are most important.( As soon as my list is complete and when things are fresh, I will rank the top 5)

3. Make your Top 5 Plan. Begin working on Top 5 immediately. What do I need to learn, acquire? Who do I need to enlist? What do I need to get rid of?

4. Commit to your priorities. Once the Top 5 plan is in place – this becomes the single minded focus of every day.

5. Know your ‘Avoid at all Cost List‘ and stick to it. Anything that didn’t make the 25 list and the other 20 that didn’t make the Top 5 are avoided at all cost until a space opens in the Top 5 because I have achieved something there.

The 5th step seems the most difficult to me but I will give it my best.

Make Today Remarkable, by creating your 25,

 

B

 

 

Are You Listening?

I need an audience. Without readers, my words fall on deaf ears- no matter how clever, important or irrelevant they seem to be. But do I need to earn the right to speak my truth into the world? Do I need a plan to cultivate listeners? Should I be writing less but better? More and more spontaneous?
When I began I was just writing for me. It was my process and it cleared my head and brought clarity to what I was thinking. Somewhere around post 125 I began to think about you, the reader, and what you were thinking. By number 500, I was focusing on appealing to a specific model reader (who I imagined was out there waiting for my next post). After 600 on makeityourproblem.com and a nearly daily shipping of content to other blogs and forums I realized that my ideas were being censored by an imaginary prospective subscriber. I was tempering my language and censoring ideas that were either too main street or too out of the park. Do all creatives begin to create what they imagine the world, their world, wants?

My mantra that remarkable people use their strengths to strengthen others when they embrace their personal responsibility rather and allow society to absolve them is the genesis of my musings and prose. I seem to have forgotten the motivation and mission. I want to significantly influence thousands of people in their journeys to living a ‘big life’. Are you influenced by these posts? Do you feel that you are living a bigger life, leaning towards being remarkable? Do you remember any of the past 600 posts or the calls to action in about half of them? Would you recall and act if the message was more compelling? Would a change of medium (video, podcast, animation) make a difference? What if the message was being created and delivered by someone else? would a different style be compelling? If this was always satirical would it be impactful?

This year there have been about 25,000 viewers to makeityourproblem.com. I don’t know if that can be considered significant. I sure don’t know if any or all found a gem or a germ they could take away. Maybe the numbers are to small and in order to influence thousands, I need to reach hundreds of thousands. Would you react differently if you knew that 100,000 other folks were ingesting and digesting the same content?

I am taking a chance on a Saturday to write about my secret hopes for this space and for the decisions that I make in my community. Honestly I am apprehensive being so vulnerable and insecure and afraid of rejection. There is a small part of me that hopes no one is listening and another part that is excited that there may be some of you who will reach out a provide honest feedback so I can improve.

Maybe the seasons are changing and as with all things this one has passed.

Cheers and Three Cheers,

B