Certainty is one of the3 c’s along with comfort and convenience that are eroding creativity, courage, and curiousity and replacing it with the mire and muck of complacency . In my opinion we need more uncertainty, inconvenience and discomfort.
Certainty justifies and facilitates intimidation and bullying. When you or a ‘leader’ are so sure that you are right, you stop listening and asking questions. You stop widening your knowledge and begin digging a narrow trench. From the rut, outsiders begin to look dangerous so the ditch gets deeper in order to keep them at bay. Soon they are so far removed from the trench worldview that their unclean ideas feel like a threat so whenever you are able you put them down and diminish their worth. The self fulfilling prophecy of reciprocal resentment leads to ad hominem mud slinging. He said ” nasty stuff”, they said “nastier stuff” and the barrage escalates until someone is pushed too far.
Certainty means that I don’t need to be creative because “my way is the right way”. Comfortably entrenched, I punch the clock and trust the “tried and true”. If we weren’t so certain we could be open to the possibility of different ideas and positions. I could be curious about how, why, what you believe and you might be open to listening to my h,w,w.
I challenge all of you to be observant today and throughout the week for opportunities where you are certain of your position or conclusion and then lean into uncertainty and see how uncomfortable it makes you. – Stay curious.
Make Today Remarkable, by leaning into uncertainty,
I have been working as a consultant, coaching and investing in startups time in startups for the past few years after a career in the charitable sector. I have used databases, spreadsheets, algorithms and intuition to help people make better decisions. Better is a relative term laden with personal bias and appreciation. In a conversation a month ago, a colleague planted a seed that has been trying to grow through the pavement of my mindset and certainty. She said ” after 15 years, I have concluded that donors don’t want data to assist them in their philanthropic decisions” I countered with ” doesn’t the data allow the mind to listen to the heart?” She strongly responded “no”.
I got thinking about how social marketers, sales associates, businesses and corporations, government administrations use all the information they collect. What I discovered is disappointing. Most (all) don’t disseminate their findings so I can make a more informed decision. Rather they use the collected points to manipulated an already confirmed trend. Usually the trend is towards additional commitments, acquiescence, or consumption. This seems worse that libertarian paternalism because generally those choice architecture suggestions are intended to help me make a decision that is better for me. The way I have observed governments, politicians and businesses use their proprietary collection is to help them ‘sell’ us something that is good for government, politicians and businesses.
I have willingly shared many of my habits (loyalty programs, surveys and focus groups) and realise that moving through space with any of my devises turned on leaves a discernible footprint which changes the way I am approached. The goal isn’t to make my life better.
With that said, what do we do? Some are disconnecting, rejecting and hiding. I read a piece in NYT that suggests that we should all disconnect from social media or risk destroying our careers. I am mulling what would work for my current situation and what would serve me better in the future.
Make Today Remarkable, for you, by considering who is collecting and who is pushing,
I am not talking about lust, or sexual fantasy or even a relationship with a beloved friend. I am referring to the stuff you are doing that floats your boat. What activity that you are doing regularly rings the bell? Is there a passion that fills most of your assignments? Does a job well done make you feel inspired?
Or can we create meaning in everything we do? Can I re-frame doing vacuuming and dusting so that the cleanliness gratifies me?
When I first started running regularly, it felt like a chore and my brain and therefore my body rebelled and tried to convince me to not go or once started made excuses to get me to return home. Now I head out excited about the mileage for the day, confident that I will reach my goal and ending my run feeling inspired and proud of the work.
I have ‘taught’ myself to be excited by healthy eating by doing it as well as possible and ‘appreciating’ the moments of it. I still get excited by pizza but a green salad with roasted beets and cauliflower makes me smile because of the nutrition and the way it perks my palate. It has added meaning to grocery shopping – rather than just going through the aisles I am inspired to search out delicious and healthy options.
I haven’t figured out how to make double entry book keeping exciting and it is still a chore to think about rigid models and dogma. I still reserve most of my time and resources on activities that play to my strengths but I am experimenting with learning and opportunities that make me uncomfortable and uncertain and actively resist convenience. In those moments I am fulfilled by a challenge and jazzed by the learning.
Are you doing those things that excite you? Are you excited in the activities that ‘need’ to be done? Can you create meaning by adjusting the frame?
It seems that everything is on a cycle? There was a supermoon this morning and it was the closest it has been since 1948 and it won’t be that close again for more that 60 years. The economy goes up and down. Seasons change (although not as I remember them from my childhood). Moods swing, weight swings, temperament changes and countries and governments change.
We can resist cycles but they mostly happen anyway. We can deny them and they still have an impact. We can accept them and miss opportunities. We can embrace them and make more of the next phase than we imagined.
Everything isn’t coming up roses right now but we can grab the season and pick pansies, asters, irises and crocuses and if we are adventurous and courageous we can plant seeds of cucumbers, melons, mums, and lillies that will be ready when the next cycle arrives.
We can be part of creating the next cycle; not by sitting idly by, not by self-righteously complaining but by choosing the action we take and observing the outcome.
The sun rose across North America this morning and people got up and started their day. There is confusion, concern and anxiety but we move forward today holding the same values as yesterday. I am hopeful for my community, optimistic about the future and grateful for the blessings I have. I will hug a bunch of people today. I will build on my relationships over the next weeks and months and act generously towards those I encounter.
Make Today Remarkable, because you can,
I listened to an interview on Curious this morning that was taped in April 2016. W. Kamau Bell was just airing his CNN show that week and he reflected on the state of his country’s politics, economy and social structure. He confessed that he lives in Berkley so his politics are as far from mainstream as he could get but his big three issues facing America during the campaign should be education, health care and prison systems. I live in Canada so am not subjected to the daily barrage of candidate messages but from my seat there hasn’t been any discussion about these issues, regardless of how right or left you lean. I haven’t heard any substance and worry for the future of American friends.
As is the custom on Curious, the guest is asked to speak to someone in the future and offer them advice as if you were no longer there to provide it. Kamau spoke to his daughter Sammie and reminded her ” that as bad as things are today, remember you need to keep hope in your heart and have some really good boots so you can get out and do the work”. On the eve of the eve, I am holding hope and urging the world to hold hope and am encouraging everyone to wake up on Wednesday, no Thursday and put your boots on and step out to make your corner of the world a better place.
November rang in the month of generosity. I opened my eyes, ears and heart to caring, courtesy, camaraderie and champions. So far I have seen 129 smiles bestowed upon strangers, 31 doors held open, 2 instances of a stranger stepping up and carrying bags, and 2 times when someone paid forward a coffee purchase. I have received more smiles than I could keep track of, more encouragement than I deserve and unsolicited references and connections. People I hardly know shared their time and expertise with me, opened their heart to my concerns and offered generous and well intended advice. I received an offer and an unexpected opportunity from a colleague and then as he was leaving he tossed a big and sincere complement my way.
There have been dozens of chances for me to act with gentleness, kindness and hospitality and being aware of the moment I chose to respond with abundance and largess every time. Without the conscious intent of observing generosity I am sure I wouldn’t have been so consistent. My efforts and intent were warmly received and appreciated and in the moment and aftermath I received a splash from someone else’s heart and nobleness.
There is a theory that if we intentionally undertake a habit for 21 days, it becomes easier to maintain and eventually becomes embedded. Three days in, I am seeing the benefit I anticipated and am excited to continue developing this purposeful practice.