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Opportunity

The expected and unexpected is ripe with opportunity, it is a matter of observation and perspective. Even if you are starting today with a same-old habitual activity (doing Saturday morning laundry)  there is a new way of seeing it and a different way of looking at it. The task can have become rote and monotonous but if you approach it with a different purpose (or some intent), the outcome may be similar but the purpose and process might change.

The unexpected poses an array of possibilities, mostly your choice to make. How you chose to react, reflect, and interpret the new circumstance create a temporary frame around the events. You can change the frame by making different choices. When the frame changed the picture looks different.

Choose to see each event today as an opportunity,

B

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POST #21: The Choice Paradox’s Paradox

Isabel Thanks for the post.

SINGING IN THE RAIN

supermarket-1229077246-820x420The Choice Paradox is an interesting theory, first named as such by the economist Barry Schwartz, in his 2004 book of the same name, subtitled ‘Why More is Less’. The idea that being presented with more choice (over, for example, brands or types of a product) actually leads to less end happiness is one that I like. It seems satisfyingly counter-intuitive; surprising findings based on solid data. However, recent experiments have cast doubt on Schwartz’ thesis, and so you will have to excuse the strange title – the double ‘Paradox’ was too much to resist – and read on to make your own conclusions!

Imagine walking into a newsagents, and by the counter there are three or four different brands of chocolate. There aren’t many, and so your expectation of how good your choice will be is not too high. You evaluate each’s merits and detractions, and pick what you…

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Is Enough ever Enough?

How much stuff do we need to fill our lives? How much stuff do we need to maintain our homes, yards, or toys?

Does everyone need a lawnmower or can two/three neighbours share? You would save money, save the environment (face it all the crap we accumulate eventually gets thrown away) and likely build community with those around you. Make sure to set up some guidelines like who will do maintenance, storage, return in good/clean condition.

Start with something small like yard tools and maybe you can save ton’s o’cash by sharing other stuff with family, friends, and neighbours.

Have you tried using libraries? Car-share services? Public transit?

I know I have enough of many things and am tempted to buy new  books, new shoes, a new digital toy. I am spring cleaning over the next couple of weeks. If you live in Calgary, I am purging more than 50 books from my shelves. If you are interested, leave a comments or send me an email bob@remarkablepeople.ca. All books  unclaimed will go to Calgary Reads Book Sale 

 

Make Today Remarkable by needing less,

B

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Moral Compass

As a society, we seem to be driven or at least conditioned to head towards an economic north. The magnetism revolves around an as yet to be disproved theory about markets, capital and people. We are turned towards financial return, budget surpluses, fiscal responsibility and all the supporting forces continue to convince us that this is ‘right and as it should be’.  The more we read, hear or see that directs us to affirming the thesis, the less we consider an alternative approach our day, our life, our mission.

I have been complicit in this experiment. Like iron on a paper with a horseshoe magnet underneath, I have lined up like an arrow pointing to the single-minded force of ROI. I allowed my discernment to be clouded and came to expect 15-20% returns without asking “how is that possible” or” what do they need to do/nor do to achieve these rates?”. The seductive pull becomes even more irresistible as the gains seem to multiply the theory’s power.

For the past year I have attempted to question how I can receive a return without compromising my espoused values. I have divested and reinvested in an alignment attempt and then needed to ask new questions about the implications an consequences of the new approach. What if the first principle wasn’t return but principles? What if the first principles of equity, responsibility, capability and community become the criteria and the metric? How would we orient our life? Would my decisions be different than what I chose yesterday?

Are you ready to explore how far apart true north and magnetic north are?

B

 

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Anticipation

Is there something lurking around a corner? Is there a niggling nudging your noggin? Is your heart a twitter with excitement of the unknown moment ahead?

I  have been carrying an edge of not quite worry – not quite expectation for a week. I have tried desperately to quell it, ignore it, and deny it. I can’t name it, I can’t put a handle on it, I can’t watch for it. It is lingers outside my near focus but won’t recede completely out of my attention.

Maybe there is a process, a set of questions, a state of mind that will either pull this near or push it far. I recall an episode of “Big Bang Theory” where Sheldon tried to see his work/world from a different part of his brain. (That is partially why I am hoping cathartic writing will do the trick). He went to work in the Cheesecake Factory.  I am going to turn my focus to something else and let  the image decide when to appear (or not) and any anxiety and frustration melt away (I hope).

Have you found a trick to being mindful and aloof at the same time?

B

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Ready, Fire, Aim and Fire Again

Planning can be helpful, planning perfection can be paralyzing. I am reading Next City’s The Future of Street Design and am amazed at the pilots that are described that bypassed red tape  in favor of doing stuff (well reasoned but not belaboured stuff) and then diligently observe and adapt the scheme. The selected cases show lessons learned that lead to permanent design changes and a couple of pilots that were abandoned very early (lesson learned).

I am applying the ‘build fast, fail early, fix’ approach to some social issues and startups that I am working on. What is we took each day or each hour as a pilot? Would we experiment more? Differently? Would each 3 second moment carry more/less energy and import?

My standard disclaimer is that I am an impatient imperfectionist with a serious action bias so doing something (that makes sense in the moment) and fixing or tweaking as needed. I use that technique in most of my independent work but haven’t shared, very often,  the process with colleagues when working towards some shared goals.

I am excited to try something new rather than rely on practice and approach that I already know will work in some measure but that is still unsettling and unsatisfying. Would you be willing to try a rapid-do approach to your weekend? If you give it a whirl, we would be thrilled to hear your experience.

 

Make This Weekend Remarkable,

B

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Giving up a Bit of Control

As always, I think I have most stuff under control. I plow ahead as if I am on the right track and mostly because I believe I am right. I am not always. Yesterday, I had a couple of reminders that i might not be right or heading in the right direction. The first wasn’t an earth shattering OMG I am wrong but more a subtle ” if I don’t encourage feedback from others, how can I even imagine that ‘my way is the  high way’?” I was advising a client that she needed to either go it alone or trust all the folks who wanted to assist with her project. I straightforwardly suggested that trust and control are diametrically opposed – less trust = more control, more trust = less control. I didn’t apply the suggestion to my own circumstances for a number of hours but think I learned a lesson.

The second instance where I recognized that I have delusions about how much control I have over real life stuff. I found out that a friend (a cancer survivor) has been rediagnosed and the prognosis isn’t good. He has, maybe, two years. This is a community activist, hard working family man and a genuinely good guy. He now has a expiry date stamped on him. He will battle, he will remain positive, he may win or extend past the date. I realized how fragile everything is and the news he received is just one phone call away from all of us. It helped me remember that these 24 are the only hours I have and while I can plan for another 10,000 days, I need to take each moment more seriously. If a moment lasts, say,three seconds then I have 1200 every hour to observe,  share and enjoy.

 

Make Today Remarkable, by letting go of control and letting today begin,

B

 

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Are Being the Best You?

I find that when I am at my best, I am taking care of my health; mental and physical and taking care of those in proximity to me; my family and my community. The tasks I am undertaking aren’t nearly as important as the focus on care. Eating better (I still have french fries on occasion), sleeping enough (for me 7 hours),  exercising daily ( I run or ride, and walk rain or shine), read twice a day ( I am on an urbanism kick) are some of the activities that keep me sane and sturdy.

When my projects take me away from my sweet spot of developing community, I find a volunteer or activist opportunity to give back to my neighbours. The volunteer assignment is done better but the non-affiliated work gets done better too. My sense of purpose overwhelms me with energy and inspiration and when my work gives me autonomy and mastery efficiency is manifested and creativity blossoms (thanks Daniel Pink).

I am fortunate to find lots of meaningful opportunities but not everything I do is rainbows and unicorns so I am grateful for the overflow that the joy provides to the less exciting but necessary tasks I need to complete.

Make Today Remarkable, by being energized and jazzed by caring,

B

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Balancing the Books

Where I live, we just had the government present a budget with a $10Biliion deficit and a forecast that we won’t be back to balancing the accounts until 2024. I have been thinking about the ramifications and reasoning of the document (runs more than 300 pages) and considering the absurdity of trying to reconcile dollar$ and meaning every 12 months.

chart

My 60+ years have been a roller coaster of credit and debit. I get close to being in a positive position when my actions bring positive value to  myself, my family  and my community. When I am greedy, self-centered and uncaring I draw down on the balance. If I was keeping record of the meaning of my life,in a 12 month window,  there would have been years that were so depressing as to completely depress any hope. If a calendar is the way to balance the books then I am a mess.

There are critics of the deficit the budget proposes but I recall 20 years ago when we were in similar economic crisis, we slashed and burned and literally blew up hospitals so expenses matched revenue.Single moms, people with mental illness or developmental delays, elderly, children and those living in poverty carried the burden of short sighted thinking and single minded focus of dollar$.

I am fortunate that I get to take the long view of my life; measuring by debits and credits and contributions and withdrawls over 80 years. At my last breath, I hope to have had a positive impact in my little corner of the world.

I am therefore looking at the fiscal plan over 30 years 1994-2024 and feeling like this phase is necessary so that we can all benefit from prosperity and all contribute to recovery.

Make Today Remarkable, by taking a long view,

B