If you are reading this post, you likely live in a world where abundance exists, and possibilities abound. In the Information Era, we should have the desire, opportunity, and curiosity to break free from the mediocrity of normalcy. But many of us cave into the pressure of believing without investigating, saying without examining and doing without agreeing. The blandness of social channels exemplifies how truly unremarkable our lives can be when we chug along with the crowd. The backlash of trolls and the general churlishness of the global gossip network reinforces the bounded rationality of normal. Breaking out of the square mold takes courage, commitment, and curiosity but the reward of becoming unbound is that you get to sing your own song to your own beat without worrying about the naysayers and critics. In fact, once you gain some distance from the mob, their resentment becomes part of the motivation to continue.
When we live within the circle of sameness, we miss all the as yet unimagined. The remarkable accidents don’t have time or space to change our trajectory.The status quo seems okay, and we begin measuring excitement and joy on a scale with an extremely low bar. If the path is void of unplanned adventure, we plod along as if on Prozac with ups and no downs. Flatlining should only happen after we are dead.
Living a life less conventional is a choice that you can start at any age. As with most things it would be great if you could take one big step and become a curious adventurer but there are years of conforming and pressure to be ‘a good girl’ from a peanut gallery that wants you to toe the line, so they don’t need to consider how small they are living their lives.
The disposition to go along can be gradually shifted towards nonconformity and even contrarianism by taking one small step at a time. If you intentionally do something, anything, differently today than you did it yesterday, you are moving towards a healthier mental state. If you plan to take an action that will be seen as unconventional and even accept that you may initially be embarrassed, then your courage will be rewarded. When you understand that the social conventions and long-standing acceptance of unwritten rules is just a shared fiction that can and should be challenged, you have altered your journey.
If you tend to think of yourself first, then try to consider how your choices impact those around you. If you are more altruistic, then lean towards self-interest for a couple of decisions. If you favor a healthy lunch, then shake it up with something decadent.
Is your bookshelf full of nonfiction because it will improve your work performance, then try a month of nothing but fiction to improve your imagination.
Once you establish a comfort level in challenging your norms, you can venture into the area of debating and commenting on the opinions and ‘values’ of the amorphous blob. Values are in quotes because values are usually deeply considered and held views and beliefs but much of what I hear and see is just an aping of what has come to be called common sense.
The big takeaway and action I hope you get from reading through to the end are that you can be remarkable and lead a big life, but it needs to be on your terms, with your goals, your tactics, and your passion. Don’t let someone, anyone dictate your path or force you to hide who you are and what you believe from the world. We not only need differences but we should celebrate those who dare to present themselves uniquely. We should celebrate you, who you are and who you can be.
Make Today Remarkable in the most exciting and outrageous way,
Asking myself the same questions, post to follow.
Am I a slow learner? Am I in the too old to teach a new trick category? Do I continue to expect a different result from the same process? Am I unwilling to consider possibilities that don’t confirm what I already hold to be true? Yes, yes and yes but not as often as I was three years ago and not as often as I was three months ago. I am getting better at listening and observing. I have improved my willingness and ability to embrace strategies, tactics, and practices that don’t guarantee an expected and preferred outcome. I am able to say ” let’s give it a try and see what we learn.”
It’s not easy being curious but inquisitiveness has it’s own rewards too. Accepting that what you are doing, in this moment, is the best use of your time and the actions you are taking will give you the best bang for your buck is the easier road. It is more difficult to question the status quo, make an inquiry that doesn’t have a ready-made answer or just do what ‘we have always done’. It seems impossible to lift our heads and see how the world has changed since we started and see if what we have been doing has made an impact on what we are trying to achieve.
Learning isn’t a random activity. I conceded that we can acquire experience by happenstance but curiousity requires intention (non-randomness). I have gained information in moments of chaos but recognize that I ascribed the result post experience and missed a genuine window to learning something as yet unimagined because I hadn’t set out to intentionally absorb, digest and regurgitate. We can commit to being observant, reflective, questioning, and accept knowledge lightly without grasping it to our chest and pretending it is sacred.We then actively search for confirmation and actively pursue misunderstanding so that our delusions don’t disolve.
I am a self-confessed impatient imperfectionist with and extreme action bias. This leaves me jumping to conclusions and off bridges before I spend time hearing the options and then making an informed decision. My stubbornness and self-importance present as unreasonable pride and can limit my willingness to explore. Some days I believe I am the most accommodating and interested person that I know and on the next day, I am self-assured, self-righteous and self-centered. I can constantly convince myself that I understand how the world works without applying any rigor or testing to the thesis. I can smile and nod with self-satisfaction when nothing out of the ordinary or nothing I couldn’t have predicted occur. It would seem, after some thought, that the results are a function of the conditions and preconditions that I established rather than some sacred or scientific rule. The same results are a function of the same blind routine rather than the best and only impact that is/was possible.
If I consider and then change the starting parameters I can reasonably expect that the process and ends will be different. Even if I am pleased with the way things went, isn’t it incumbent on me to see how I may improve the results?
As always, when I write in the first person I could as easily be using second or third. Are you a slow learner? Are we in the too old to teach a new trick category? Do you continue to expect a different result from the same process? Are we unwilling to consider possibilities that don’t confirm what we already hold to be true?
Embrace some ambiguity today. Test a new ‘off the wall’ thesis. Be bold and go where you have never gone before.
We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
~ Walt Disney
Curiousity is the lust of the mind ~ Thomas Hobbes
Science means constantly walking a tightrope between blind faith and curiosity; between expertise and creativity; between bias and openness; between experience and epiphany; between ambition and passion; and between arrogance and conviction – in short, between an old today and a new tomorrow.
~ Heinrich Rohrer
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
~ Albert Einstein
Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. – Zora Neale Hurston
Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
e. e. cummings
My favourite words are possibilities, opportunities and curiosity. I think if you are curious, you create opportunities, and then if you open the doors, you create possibilities.
As I get older, the more I stay focused on the acceptance of myself and others, and choose compassion over judgment and curiosity over fear.
Tracee Ellis Ross
Make Today Remarkably Curious,
Nostalgia’s only frame is our imagination. Whether the lens is rose, green, or black, we rearrange and edit to suit the mood and moment we are trying to recreate. In the memorable moment, we store the events and circumstances arbitrarily influenced by how well we slept the night before, how much traffic we encountered, or if the sun is shining. If I have expectations that joy and laughter, or anger and sadness will be present the data that is stored through confirmation or denial of those expectations alter how the event is captured. When the extraction of a memory happens, it is revised by the proximity to the moment, the reference it is being called to explain, the stimulus evoking the need, and my mood, disposition and experiences since the last filing of the remembrance. The first telling is freshest, although potentially fictional, and then influences subsequent testimonies based on how the story impacted the teller and the audience. Black becomes grey, sad becomes despondent, or late afternoon can become evening. The shading towards larger or smaller, louder or quiet is a reflection of observation of the narrative rather than the instant being described.
The following is a chapter from my “Faded Recollections” project. See if you can hear where my shifts and shades push into the narrative. This chapter was written 3 years ago, I wonder if you can feel my state of mind then?
After ten weeks in grade 4, I had figured out a pattern that made me popular or at least not unpopular. Being a teacher’s kid wasn’t as bad as a pastor’s kid but I was always viewed with a little suspicion. ” He might tell his mom.” ” Bobby is coming, don’t let him see it”. It made it difficult to be part of a group and impossible to get a girlfriend (whatever that meant). Patty and Diane, two very cute girls, didn’t reciprocate any of my clumsy advances but there were a couple of other boys who would run to the far corner of the playground with me and sit watching the girls giggle at us oogling them. Crossing the monkey bars, two hand holds at a time and shinnying up the swing standard had given me some credibility with Brian and Allan and instilled some awe in the grade 2 kids. For north end kids, all we had was name and reputation.
Life for kids was far more disorganized then, and way more fun. No teacher picked teams at recess for baseball or hit fly balls for Shag or explained the rules for freeze tag or fretted about boys being boys (or girls being boys). Life was simpler. You knew who liked you. You knew who you hoped would like you. You knew who didn’t like you and you shunned them just like they were avoiding you. Feelings got hurt all the time. Kids pushed each other and name called. Kids got knicks, and bled and bumps and bruises appeared and disappeared. Kids learned a lot.
November 1963 had been chilly, dipping to -20C ( 4 below on the old scale) and winter felt like it was edging in early. Well, maybe not early because my memory serves up many Halloweens with snow covering the lawns and eggs freezing on windows. Regardless, the weather hadn’t gotten frigid enough to confine the 200 kids in the basement at lunch and recess. That only happened when they were really afraid that one of us would get frostbite or stick our tongue to the bootscraper, on a dare. After all the teachers needed a coffee and a smoke in the teacher’s lounge and 15 minutes away from their charges. For Mr. Berg there wasn’t any respite. He had grade 5 kids asking inane questions, getting on his nerves, not listening to instructions and yawning in his classroom and then did supervision so his wife could get new curtains, or slipcovers, or dishes or something. “Every little bit helps”
At morning recess, he faced south leaning against the greying brick at the ready to pick up the pieces if a humpty dumpty incident happened, like when Harvey parachuted off the big swing and broke his left leg. Like the all the King’s men, he wasn’t responsible for stopping the carnage just repairing the damage and watching for true craziness and listening for potty mouths. He could hear Kevin say “shit” from 200 yards and knew that if Adele was moping by the back gate that she might be contemplating a runner. In September, Adele took off at morning recess heading east and Patty said: “ her parents found her in Winnipeg a week later.” I don’t know how a ten-year-old could travel 500 miles but that is what Patty said and we always listened when she was making pronouncements, besides the goal posts.
At lunch break, Mr. Berg faced east imagining something better. Maybe some excitement would jump in his lap tomorrow. “It is only November, I have 7 months until summer and two months away from this drudgery”. When he was in the noon position, he couldn’t see what was going on at the swings, teeters or climbing bars and was oblivious to the activities at the corner gate. Plots were hatched, nicknames were taunted, horseplay arose and I remember trying to hold Patty’s hand. Nobody swore, or thought about smoking or really hurting each other but the rules were different then.
By the afternoon recess, Mr. Berg had given up on another day and didn’t even come out of the covered entry. The principal always took an extra five minutes before ringing the bell and never did a sweep to see if he was earning the extra $2. If havoc and mayhem was going to break out, this was the time. For most of us, we had no real sense of time but it was obvious that freedom was on the horizon. Even in November, the sun was still promising something and our imaginations worked together to fill the hours between supper and street lights. We were powerless to change the cycle so we adapted to the rhythm.
November 23 started just like November 22. Harvey and I were first to the playground, just before 8:30, and staked the best spot in the grade 4 territory, on the pavement under the Kindergarten window. We bragged about yesterday and proudly prophesized about tomorrow, avoiding today. Four other boys joined us before the lineup bell rang and then the stragglers raced across the field from every direction. If we timed it perfectly, we could meander kicking stones and looking cool to arrive at the back door just as the second bell rang and the girls lined up. The daily dance started. It is hard to flirt and avoid being seen or seeing all at the same time. By now, we were pretty much in sync and our moves were choreographed like the Virginia Reel we practised in the playroom. “Would today be the day that Mrs. Mattson actually paired me with someone other than Shirley – Squirrelly Shirley?”
I don’t recall what occurred at morning recess or in any of my classes which is weird because I did well in school and this would turn out to be one of the most important days of my life. Maybe I was foreshadowing the upcoming events or maybe the rush that was coming has erased pieces, to leave room for clarity and sharpness, in what was important and remarkable.
Lunch was the highlight, for me. I rushed home to grab a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of whole milk with a plan to meet back on the playground in 5 minutes to play a game of Aerial. Aerial was a local version of football where one kid, the quarterback picked up the ball off the dirt field and all the other kids on his team raced toward the goal posts. The quarterback had three or five elephants to select a receiver and heave the ball in his direction before the opposition madly chased him in an effort to tag him with two hands. Invariably, “ I got you on the back”, “ You only tagged with one hand”, “Missed me” rang from the playground as often as the ball was caught. The team with the ball had three chances to score( CFL rules) and then the other team took over and tried to move the football across the other goal line. A score of 21-14 was a good noon hour, especially if you scored one of the three touchdowns. You could be a minor celebrity for a couple hours. “Nice catch”, “ You really deked him out”, or “ I want to be on your team tomorrow” was the highest compliment.
For some reason, the television was on. It was never on at lunch. Maybe one of my sisters turned it on hoping to catch Flintstones but with only one channel you got what was delivered not what you wanted. A news program was playing and a serious man in a dark suit was saying something important. All the suits looked dark in black and white. “ President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas, at Dealy Plaza at 12:30 Central Standard Time. “ How could he be shot at 12:30 when it is only 12:10?” was my first thought and then the serious man said “ Reports indicate that the wounds were fatal but the Whitehouse hasn’t confirmed this”. Shot, president, wounds, fatal… fatal meant dead didn’t it? There weren’t any pictures, just serious man. I imagined as hard as I could what the president looked like. I had seen glimpses of him on the news that was on every day before supper, when we all had to be deadly quiet if dad was watching. I conjured his image and a gunshot with blood spurting out like when I got clunked on the forehead with a rock hit off a broken bat. I couldn’t picture dead, I didn’t have a picture of shot dead except from the occasional Saturday movie at the Capitol Theatre. Then no one ever bled, they just fell down when it was their turn.
I was 9 years old, living in a different country but this was the most important thing that I had ever heard and there was no one to tell. My sisters had already headed back to school to sit by the playground and watch the big kids climb, swing and teeter. It felt like I was teetering. My heart and brain were racing. I remember touching my tongue to the roof of my mouth and it felt soft and sticky. I had stopped munching on the PB&J and was sitting with my mouth wide open staring at the first images of the car and the chaos. I didn’t see blood but in black and white not everything is clear. I don’t know how much time had passed but I eventually recovered and washed my mouth out with a big gulp of still cold milk. I picked up my sandwich and glass and took them to the sink. I wasn’t supposed to eat in the living room. There were rules that you never got caught breaking.
I knew who I could tell. There was one adult who I knew would be there. Mr. Berg would be standing guard in the schoolyard and he would know what to do with this information. I slammed the back door on my way out and took the three steps off the stairs in a leap. I raced back to school rehearsing the words, rethinking the words, reconsidering the words. As he got closer, he seemed so relaxed as if nothing had happened. “he didn’t know”. I was going to be the one to tell him, to share this important news. I had something he didn’t have. I knew and he didn’t. I slowed a bit to relish the moment of power but unfortunately, I didn’t have much restraint. From ten steps away I shouted, “ The President has been shot and I think he is dead.” All the kids in earshot turned and the sentinel swiveled in my direction. Everything went into slow motion and this was way before slow motion replay on every second play of the televised football game. The pace crept and sound lengthened so as to be almost unintelligible. Those final steps took what felt like minutes and I had become the center of attention for hundreds of kids. It was likely less than 20 kids, but when you have the spotlight it seems like more.
The moment was greater than scoring a touchdown and greater than what I had imagined kissing Patty would be like. I felt my head swoon and I started sweating and panting. I could taste steel in the back of my throat like when I fell off the roof of the school after retrieving a football. I couldn’t catch my breath.
“Stop, What did you say, young man?” ‘Young man’ was his phrase when you were in big trouble. It was like I had said “ shit, damn, piss”, he was glaring at me with crazy eyes like when Kevin pounded on Larry beside the pump outside the gate. “Why was he furious?” I was the messenger, not the shooter. My left arm felt his grasp and I was lifted into the air in one motion. “ You are coming with me. You are a liar. You can’t spread horrible rumors like that”. He shouted as loud as I had. “ Mr. Davidson will want TO DEAL WITH YOU”. Mr Davidson was the principal and grade 6 teacher. He didn’t come out on the playground unless a man arrived to do an inspection and then we all lined up alphabetically by grade so he could check out our hair, fingernails and for some reason the knees of our pants. What did he mean Mr. Davidson was going to deal with me? I had heard about the ‘strap’ but surely he meant I would get some kind of award.
We were charging up the back stairs and down the hall towards the teacher’s lounge. Before I could feel true foreboding, he opened the door and tossed me through it. I stumbled and fell forward onto a chair where the Kindergarten teacher was sitting. She looked as stunned as I must have looked. “ He is telling lies on the playground and scaring all the other kids”. And then the most shocking statement rose from Mr Berg. like a machine gun in a mobster movie, he rat-a-tat-tatted;“ He needs to be strapped for saying that the President, the president of the United States was shot and is dead. Make an example of him so he learns not to say things just to scare us, to scare the other kids”.
Now my audience was six teachers and Mr. Davidson and the venue was their territory, not the schoolyard where I knew every turn, every stone, every dip and rise. I was in their sanctuary, still not sure how or why I had arrived. My mom, who taught grade 2, must have been there but I don’t remember seeing her and we have never really talked about the incident.
But the teachers and Mr. Davidson weren’t looking at me, they were staring at Mr. Berg. I glanced up and his face was flushed, like he had just run around the schoolyard, his eyes were as big as the big red balls we threw at each other when he wasn’t watching and his nostrils were flared. I had only seen nostrils like that on the horse at grandma’s farm. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one shocked by the past five minutes.
There was silence, staring and then a sigh from the school nurse. Not the kind of sigh that says, this is good but the kind that says “oh no, what should I do?”. The principal broke the spell and stood up. As he approached, his eyes moved from me to my charge and back to me. “ What’s this about William?” I didn’t know who he was talking to but Mr. Berg started “ He came racing across the playground past the grade one and two kids shrieking that the President of the United States had been shot and was dead. I had to stop him so he didn’t really scare the little kids. You know how they are. What if what he said was true? We would all be doomed to the Russians coming over the north pole.”
The voice of authority regained composure and plainly asked “ Why would you say something like that?” Before I could respond Mr. Berg said “ He is a bad kid who will do anything to get attention. I saw him pretending to smoke just to impress a couple of girls.” I wasn’t a bad kid. I listened in class, got mostly As and Bs, didn’t swear when adults were around, didn’t tag hard in football… I wasn’t a bad kid. The voice continued ignoring the rantings saying “ who told you to say that?”
I collected myself, “ no one told me to say it, I saw it on TV and thought I should tell an adult and Mr Berg was the first one I thought of”. This time I could tell where the sigh came from, maybe from everyone. It was probably more of a gasp that sent one of the teachers to the radio on the counter. She either turned it up, I hadn’t noticed it being on or turned it on. I really hadn’t noticed anything in particular but now I saw the yellow-brown walls and thought of my last diarrhoea and realized the room smelled like sweat, cigarettes, and maybe fear (not at all like diarrhoea).
As I started scanning the room, which was way smaller than I would have imagined, the radio announcer solemnly reported “ President John F. Kennedy is dead. He was shot in Dealy Plaza in Dallas while his motorcade was on parade. Vice President Johnson will be sworn in as President this afternoon”. Then almost as an afterthought “ Investigators are searching for the gunman or gunmen”.
The silence was different this time. Not driven by fear but rather a disbelief. Not the ‘you are lying disbelief’ but the kind that rises when you don’t want to believe. I felt Mr Berg’s hand leave my shoulder. I really hadn’t known it was there until it wasn’t. He sort of swayed sideways and fell to his knees. No one breathed as if we could reverse time if we didn’t move it forward. The room was choked and I felt responsible. It felt terrible and thrilling all at once. My knowledge, my words, my little voice had power.
“ Bobby, go back out to the playground” the principal whispered. As I made my way to the door I heard
“ What do we do? What do we do now?”
My only visit to the teacher’s lounge was over as the door closed behind me. The hallway was empty and seemed longer than a few minutes ago. I was on a rollercoaster as the floor pitched and the walls shook. I was at the stairs before I knew I was moving and through the east doors. The light was bright and my eyes dilated from the glare. The image ahead of me was fuzzy. It seemed all the kids were huddled in a semi-circle around the entrance. There was no one on the field, or on the swings or at the gate. They were all here waiting. They weren’t pushing. There wasn’t any swearing or name calling. My ears rang from the stillness. Still swaying from the hallway pitching, I hit a wall of anxiety and worry.
Harvey and Brian started it. The applause rippled through the circle. Even Patty and Diane were clapping. My only possible response was a smile, a crooked disbelieving smile. I told the group, who listened without interruption the news I had heard on the TV. The reaction wasn’t like the teachers or like what Mr. Berg anticipated. Like me, they didn’t know what to do with the information. There wasn’t enough information to think about the consequences. Slowly small groups drifted away back to regular lunch hour activities. I was famous for a day but the story of the teacher’s lounge got me an audience every time I told it until I went on to middle school.
We were all changed that day whether we knew it or not. Innocence evaporated for some, dread directed decisions for others. Our future changed and we can only imagine how another 5 years of Camelot might have played out. I learned that knowledge is power and even when you don’t completely understand it you can still wield the sword.
The sword and shield are important tools in the reconstruction of the past. In rereading the piece today, I still believe that there is no intentional misrepresentation but acknowledge that there could easily be significant misremembering.
I probably have enough of everything.
How do you know if you have reached your capacity? What happens when you exceed it? Is that even possible? When I reach a new training goal and exceed my capacity, I just move the line to the new personal best. If I could increase my capacity by 1% 5 days a week, the gains in a month, a year would be remarkable. My squat personal best is 250 pounds of 5 sets of 5 reps. A 1% increase would add 2.5 pounds tomorrow, which seems entirely doable. After 5 days my capacity would be set at about 263 pounds. For my age and frame size, there is likely an extreme capacity. With a little bit of Google sleuthing, it seems that the record for a 64-year-old is 369 pounds. That seems impossible for me to imagine lifting but shouldn’t we strive to reach the outer limits. And if the record holder, John LaFlamme, add 1% a week for a month he would reach more than 390.
What about other workloads? If I write 2500 words today and read 200 pages can I increase both by 1% tomorrow? That is only one more sentence and a couple more pages. If I contacted 6 prospects tomorrow could I contact 7 and then 8 and then 9 or ten a day, by the end of this week. Are we afraid of capacity or is capacity a synonym for fear? Fear erodes capacity; fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of success, fear of commitment, fear of accountability. Let me offer this assurance if you try to improve you will fail, the outcome is uncertain, you may be asked to do more, you won’t have the same excuses, and you will improve (probably not all on the same day but maybe).
What if your potentials and mine are infinite? Well, not technically infinite but so much greater than we are reaching as to seem unlimited. Do you have enough desire and drive to move your needle 5% a week or even 5% a month? What activities and projects are you working on? How could you apply a metric and the set a 5% improvement target? Let’s pretend that you aren’t already walking your 10000 steps a day, like we have been convinced that we should be doing or that you aren’t drinking 64oz of water every day. Improving on these might go hand in hand. If you are walking 6000 steps and drinking 4 glasses of water already you might be able to add 60 steps and an additional 4 oz tomorrow and then repeat and repeat and repeat until you can check the box. Sometime next week you would be up to your 8-8ounce glasses and be pounding out 6500 to 7000 steps. Within a few weeks, you would have increased your capacity and reached the goal through habitual, committed improvement. (Be sure to consult your medical advisors before undertaking any new strenuous activity that could exacerbate an existing condition)
Technology can be a great tool to help remind, prod, coach, and hold accountable our improvement goals and serve as a record of the achievements. I use Duolingo to both encourage and prompt me to continue with my French lessons. Curious.com keeps me learning across an array of subjects by sending an email and then suggesting additional lessons. Noom counts my steps and my TomTom calculates my distances and 5X5StrongLifts coaches me in weight training and kicks my butt when I don’t. In my coaching practice, I act as all of those to my clients and hold them accountable to both the goals and schedules that they have created.
The 1% better every day is credited to Kaizen and in modern terms, this might be the impetus but our neolithic ancestors improved on a daily basis or face dire consequences. Their increase in all kinds of capacity leads us to today where the urgency to improve isn’t as pressing as it was once was. If I don’t learn to conjugate the verb avoir or do 5 sets of bench press and overheads, I probably won’t be eaten by a predator. Where fear once compelled us it now seems to fear detours and derails us from moving forward. The motivation is more intrinsic and inspirational rather than pragmatic survival.
My simple and simplistic analysis would then suggest that capacity is up to me. If I want to improve my fitness, my health, my financial resources, my relationships then it is up to me to participate in the work at the least and design and command at the most. The same is likely true for all of us.
You are a witness to your own truths. They exist in your head and you get to choose whether to accept them, reject them, alter them. They do not dictate your words or actions but if you aren’t conscious of them, they will influence how you behave and interact with others. As I have allowed my prejudice towards specific positions to soften, I have released one set of ideas and felt them dissolve as my curiousity, compassion or conscience created a new frame to be considered. But, how do I reconcile the probability that my conclusions are wildly and widely different from someone/everyone else? Does the sum of my experiences shape or define how I construct certainty? It is likely if I am not diligent about my reflection and discernment, I will wade the confirmation bias creek and swim my way to a comfortable, possibly biased, conclusion.
When I am open to shaking things up and letting the ideas in my head, that I hold to be real, to evaporate and make space for new pathways to connect I might arrive at similar conclusions or may wander widely and wildly in another direction. Discovery rarely happens if I take the same journey on the same route so I will try to observe different twists and turns along the way.
Give it a try tomorrow morning and let some of your presumptions, assumptions, pronouncements, and postures to melt and make room for an adventure that is as yet unimagined.
One foot in front of the other, repeat. Moving forward isn’t difficult to imagine but it can be hard to accomplish. When I head out for a run in the morning, I am full of enthusiasm and energy but after a few hundred feet, my brain starts telling my body all the reasons that I should turn around and go home. ” you are too tired” ” you didn’t eat breakfast yet”,” you don’t have water”,” Your knee is sore”, ” you are working too hard”. This goes on for about 3 kilometers. At about 12 minutes, the naysayer’s brain becomes quiet and I am in a rhythm that allows me to clock miles while disposing of unwanted and unneeded baggage in my head.
” The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, then starting on the first one.” ~ Mark Twain
If I have a project that isn’t literally bipedal motion, I still need to move it forward step by step. As a destination focused person, I struggle with the incrementalism of this approach but can attest to some monumental failures when I tried to get ahead of the next action without taking the previous. Even when I reverse engineer a plan, for myself or a client, I then need to begin at 1 and move through 2,3,4, … to 123,124 …
Following each measured step can be monotonous but I have learned that it is the most efficient and more often, I discover that there are multiple stems that could be tried and I get to make more informed decisions at each juncture. There have been many times that this one-step-after-another process has lead me to an as yet unimagined possibility and ultimately to a different and better destination.
This has occurred so often that I am now treating each stage of the journey as a mini destination. The running metaphor runs out of steam at this point but I confess that there have been times where I had gone too far and needed to coax myself along with the mantra ” you can stop and walk in 100 more steps” and then I have slowed and walked and said ” you will start running again in 100 steps”. Luckily I have never needed to go on full out repeat of that set but it is a good reminder that setting small goals that lead to bigger ones can be motivating and reduce the paralysis of being overwhelmed.
The final benefit of methodical forward motion is that you eventually reach the destination; maybe not where you thought you would be or on the schedule you expected, but you get there. Finishing a marathon in 3 hours is a whopping big goal but finishing a marathon is still an amazing accomplishment. And the best thing about reaching your destination is the feeling of achievement that goes with it.
Step up today and step out. Stretch out your leg and put your foot down, lift up your other leg and do it again. Who knows where you might end up.
There is a gap between aspiration and implementation that needs to be filled. If my effort doesn’t reduce the chasm, then the goal is merely words. If my personal mission, for 2017, is to significantly influence 100,000 people this year but I sit quietly on my hands waiting for the best time to make a perfect appeal, I will likely get comfortable with the waiting rather than the action. I am an impatient imperfectionist with a serious action bias so I am more likely to leap before assessing how far I need to jump or how far I might fall. The specific metric isn’t as important to me as the doing. I would sooner fall 50,000 short while taking some for of action to inform, encourage, incite, provoke and coach rather than 100,000 short perfecting a perfect message (nonexistent). I blog, podcast, tweet, post, coach, speak, present, propose almost every day. The analytics I am using suggest that I have legitimately reached 300,000 unique individuals so far this year. More than 2000 have replied, commented, shared, challenged, celebrated. But how do I measure the in-betweeners? Between reach and engagement? Between engagement and action? Between status quo and change? Does it matter?
I am also an extrovert who uses the outside of my head to ‘mull’ and ” reflect”. The above paragraph leads me to a reflection that I need to define significant and influence before worrying about #’s to improve the decisions that I make. If I believe significant is measured by any engagement ( is a Retweet equal to a comment, is a question better than a like, are criticisms an improvement over exposure?) (my initial answer would be no, yes, yes).
What moves a reader from passive consumption to engagement? What can I do to foster more questions? Does it matter if the engagement is a sidebar to the initial medium? How do you accept or welcome someone’s influence in your life? Do you realize and recognize when and how your views, approaches, and opinions are being shifted? Is logic a contributing element? numbers? stories? depth? brevity? clarity?
Are you more likely to shift positions with a preponderance of evidence or an abundance of confirmation? Does a 300-page case study sway you more than 300 people aligning with a specific idea or trend? What influences you? Is there something that I could say or do or some way I could express my ideas that would be more likely to resonate with you?
Do you comment when something triggers a reaction (positive or negative)? Do you share through your network? Do you follow bloggers, tweeters? for their content? or just friends?
Still trying to figure this out after 600+ posts,