Uncategorized

Normal

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,

Bob

Original Thought · Self Improvement

Arrogant

Over the past month, I have been accused of being arrogant on at least four occasions. The accusers didn’t say I was arrogant but that what I was saying was arrogant. According to Meriam Webster’s definition of arrogant;

1 : exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one’s own worth or importance often by an overbearing manner an arrogant official
2 : showing an offensive attitude of superiority : proceeding from or characterized by arrogance an arrogant reply

I concede that what I said was controversial and worded in a way as to provoke debate but the only dog I have in the race is my opinion. I didn’t exaggerate or express superiority in my position even knowing that the people I was talking with held, a strong polar position. Am I responsible for how my views make you feel about yours? Can I express a differing proposition and allow you to express yours without delving into accusations of assumptive presumption?

If I state, as I did, that “I have easily and comfortably moved from an agnostic to an atheist”, which carries with it a challenge to understand am I pretentious? In these cases, I am sure that if I had said ” I am a follower of Christ”, these individuals may have seen pious sensibility rather than arrogance. Are superiority and inferiority built into differing opinions? I recognize that I see confidence in some leaders, who I share some agreement, while other people that I know look for high-handed pompousness. If I disagree with a policy, I can view the politician as mean-spirited while a supporter sees practicality.
Are my monikers and labels just laziness and laxness? Do I choose mean-spirited for its impact? Should pompous, haughty, proud, insolent, overbearing and arrogant be saved for circumstances that warrant their definition? Have I resorted to a logical fallacy when I create a straw man by invoking a fascist or pervert label when the words or behavior that I am critical of is neither? Did I get a taste of my own exaggerated medicine?
When I make a comparison between two things that share some characteristics, I need to be careful that the analogy only stretches to the common ground. When I am tempted to make a point by extending a ‘guilt-by-association’ inference I need to step back onside. I hold some strong views on equity, social justice and economy that are shared by people that I find detestable. Does that mean that I am detestable too?

Are the phenomena new or have we been shortcutting and caricaturing for centuries? My sense of awareness around the behavior is heightened, and I would like to blame it on the models we see from world leaders in government, business, and charity. But I am not sure that is a valid assessment. I have found examples of biting political satire from the 15th Century, so maybe this can’t be blamed on President Trump, Prime Minister May, Kim Jong-un, Silvio Berlusconi or Robert Mugabe.

Changing how speechwriters, editors, journalists, and pundits choose to describe ‘the other’ is outside my span of control. I can take everything with a pinch of salt, and I can consider how I choose my descriptors and match my intent to my words. That still leaves me a lot of latitudes and obviously, I can ignore the stated intent and be rancorous and obnoxious, but maybe this will force me to acknowledge my intent and accept responsibility. As in many things that I think and write about, this is easy to say and harder to do.

I keep learning, adapting, improving, faltering and getting excited, disappointed, confused but it id the only way I know I am alive.

B

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Football

Sports metaphors lack grace, but I will begin the year with one that those who are fans (casual or rabid) of North American Football. You have just been given a fresh set of downs – what are you going to do with them? If you are a Canadian, you have three new opportunities to move the ball to a new marker at least 10 yards away. If you live in the United States, you get four attempts.

Untitled design (1)

You can run, pass, handoff, lateral, fake, pound straight ahead or use finesse. The choice is yours and will be dictated by your comfort with risk, your flair, and how easily you make decisions. The clock is running and time doesn’t stop often. What you do first will impact how close you are to the next goal, and the results of the first try will influence the second, third, and fourth. There is a bit of pressure but being in the game means that you need to be willing, if not ready, to play.

I am a fan of some razzle-dazzle and appreciate daring offense. The sum of my experience and acquired tendencies would have me throwing down the field on all three attempts on the first series. A new game has started today, and if I take a risk and I fail, there is still time to learn from the results and adapt my game plan. If I complete a throw and score, I will take that information and refine my expectations for the next opportunity that I get. In football, you can create additional opportunities to play offense by playing strong defense and stopping your opponent from scoring. I can’t make stretch my metaphor that far, in life, without adding aggressive competition. I don’t believe that when someone else succeeds, I lose (except in game theory and practice). I favor a more collaborative approach. In this time, in this place, with these people, we should be expecting remarkable results. If we all pull together and apply our energy, intellect, and determination to any problem, I am confident that together, we can find an as yet unimagined approach and solution.

That doesn’t mean that we acquiesce. We should be ready to respectfully defend our position and to challenge the thoughts, ideas, and opinions of others. If I do that right, I allow my curiosity to observe, reflect and adapt to new and shifting information and circumstances.

While I am part of many teams and I appreciate the skills and dispositions of others, I need to be the quarterback of my own life. In those situations where the circumstances are fully within my control, and the impact won’t adversely harm those around me, I can/must make my own choices. If I am not observing, reflecting and adapting my own life someone else will be dictating every how, where, when, and who.
My health and happiness depend on my acceptance of and responsibility for the autonomy. I am also accountable for the results that my choices deliver. When they are as good or better than expected, I should celebrate. (Not with some ridiculous touchdown dance but with a moment to acknowledge to myself the accomplishment). When the results are less than expected, I should learn from the moment. What variables didn’t I consider? Do I need additional skills, training or coaching? Is there a nuanced approach that I should try next or do I need to rethink the plan? The key to success is observe, reflect, adapt, and try again. Even when I succeed I can look for ways to add value to the choice and then watch to see if there was an improvement. A 1% increase (whatever that means) for even half my attempts could mean a significant difference after 100 tries.

Some days, my instincts, my intuition, and my experience will tell me that today’s conditions would be better served by running north-south and on other days I might recognize that a series short passes will be a better strategy. There isn’t a magic bullet or elixir or formula that is a one-size-fits every situation, but if we wake up determined to play the game and are aware of the current situation, we can draw from our growing playbook and attempt something we never dreamed possible. When we falter, fall and fail, we will pick ourselves up off the field, check for bruises and then call another play. Being in the game is more rewarding and fun than sitting on the sidelines so as you finish reading today’s post, get up and run a few plays.

Make today and every day remarkable,

B

Self Improvement · Teamwork · Uncertainty

December 30, 2017

Are our best days behind us? Or do you see a promising future? Either way, it is mostly perspective. If I look back wistfully to a better time when I was happier, smarter, taller, thinner, fitter … the view is tainted with nostalgic naivety. I remember the best of times in the past and have conveniently forgotten any discomfort, stress or anxiety. Troubles seem to have melted away, and I see only the high points. This is probably a healthy outlook (back look) because there is very little that can be done to change yesterday and if we narrowed our perspective on the negative, we would find ourselves swimming in the same pool of despair and discomfort. Beginning the next adventure with that cloud hanging in the rear window can suck the enthusiasm and possibilities out of the journey.
When we look forward to moving forward and anticipate remarkable opportunities, we are most likely to be attentive and observant, so we see them as they appear. (they don’t really appear, we create them by intentionally doing those things that are necessary, but if we aren’t looking for them, we pass them by).

As I tear another page off the calendar and hang a new set of pages on the wall, I am aware of a couple of potential projects and need to continue to cultivate relationships and knowledge so I will be involved. I have committed to five daily actions that lead to my five 2018 goals, but none of them will happen unless I am diligent and intentionally habitual. Completing five new tasks every day (none of which are directly related to the work that I do) requires me to change my morning routine and move some current practices to other times or eliminate them from my priority list. I have spent years learning about my disposition and tendencies and recognize that if I don’t apply rigor, accountability, and positivity to my priorities, I am prone to self-sabotage and excuse making. 2018 is the “Year of No Excuses”. I can accept that there are reasons within my control and much that is outside my influence that can and will impact my progress but those reasons can not become excuses for not continuing, for not overcoming and for not finding a different approach. My self-examination and reflection over the past five years have verified that I am ‘destined’ to doing great things when I am prepared for, confident in and hopeful about all my tomorrows, whether I can see them from where I am standing or not.
If you haven’t taken time and exerted energy in examining your life so far, your conditioned practices, and your desires for the upcoming trip around the sun, I encourage you to block a couple of hours today, tomorrow and Monday to reflect, write, plan and ready yourself for the “Year of No Excuses”. Some helpful starting points for your reflection and planning might be in these questions.

1. What action, project or assignment from 2017 are you the proudest to have been involved with?
2. Why does this action, project or assignment from 2017 make you proud?
3. Are there similar, associated or ancillary projects that could be part of your 2018?

4. What work did you undertake in 2017 to improve your physical, emotional and mental health?
5. What resources; people, material, practices were helpful in the improvement?
6. How can you jumpstart the next level of physical, emotional and mental health improvement?

7. Who was your most important relationship in 2017? Do they know how important they are to you? Did you add value to their life in 2017?
8. Did you neglect relationships in 2017 by being too busy to connect? Can you change the situation?
9. Are there people in your life that drain your wellbeing? Do they know how they impact you?

10. What three desires/goals do you have for 2018? How will you feel on December 31, 2108, when you celebrate that you have achieved them?

If you haven’t taken time yet to answer questions like this and can’t/won’t make time to respond over the next three days, don’t throw your hands up in frustration. It is always better to start late than not at all. If you need a kickstart, we can provide you with a Q1 coaching program with an hour session every week until March 31, 2018. We can help you work through these questions and other exercises that will help you with accountability to those things that are important to you. You can join us in the “Year of No Excuses” and make the next 8760 hours the best so far.

Make this year remarkable,

Bob

Original Thought · Uncertainty

Democracy

This is an unpopular truth, but not everyone’s opinions are equal. ~Shane Parrish

In the Farnam Street post this morning, the above quote appeared. Shane went on to defend the statement with a reliable if simplistic story. ” I am going into surgery and have a few choices to make. While the opinion of my partner and a first-year resident should be heard, they should have less weight than an experienced surgeon.

If we should give more credibility and validity to some opinions or advice in a potentially life-threatening situation, shouldn’t we extend that rationale to other circumstances? Or do we?

If I am considering the purchase of a new laptop, I review information from a number of sources; social media, tech sites, manufacturer’s promotion, friends’and colleagues’ recommendations, and bring my own experience, logic and intuition to bear. Somewhere in the calculation, I might add a measure of confidence to my logic and a friend who has a tech rep. If I am satisfied with the choice and find the decision to be reasonable I (all thing$ being equal) would act and purchase a specific laptop. If I am later satisfied or disappointed with the purchase, I would refine the selection criteria in subsequent searches and weigh the input differently.

Yet, we, without question, believe that every elector should have a full vote. We don’t consider the voter’s preparation for the decision. It would seem outrageous to suggest that informed, concerned, interested, involved individuals should have greater sway in the choice of elected representatives. Is it outrageous for pragmatic or philosophical reasons? What ramifications would we face if voting was a responsibility rather than a right? If I was required to fully participate in the fulsomeness of debate and arrive at a well-reasoned and informed position (whatever that was) before my x on a ballot counted as 1.0, would I be making a different or better choice?

For me, I realize that I have tendencies towards certain political ideologies, I have an ease at making decisions, and I am likely to be more informed about the substance rather than just the sizzle of a policy or platform. Should that make my input more valuable to the greater good than someone who is influenced by self-interest? religious belief? partisanship? financial gain/loss?

Is the idea that elections or referendums should produce the best result a red herring/ What if democracy isn’t about the quality of the choice or even the quality of the participation? Maybe, democracy is about the ongoing quality of equitable relationships. What if the results are supposed to be accepted because it holds polar opinions in tension, somewhere between agreement and conflict? Democracy reduces the disparity of disposition and narrows the bandwidth of societal norms? Is a smaller range of acceptable positions advantageous to individuals, community, society?

Does it feel uncomfortable when the range gets so wide that someone else’s opinion seems reprehensible? Do we stop listening when a line is crossed? It seems that we loudly and quickly assign labels to positions that are outside the narrow spectrum that is safe for discussion. Can the scope grow if we are subjected to a vocal force who espouse a view that is outside the box? I have witnessed changes in societal norms and acceptance that a few years ago was outside the realm of ‘polite conversation’.

The big progressive issues of the past 50 years have gained traction and change the conversation by courageous activists constantly bringing them forward. 50 years ago, no country accepted the concept of same-sex marriage. 50 years ago abortion was taboo. 50 years ago health care was a luxury. 50 years ago sovereign debt seemed impossible. Is it unreasonable or unrealistic to expect that the pendulum will continue to swing? Would democracy suffer if it only swung in one direction? How would conservative voices be heard if the scales were always tipped towards the left? Would revolt be inevitable if only conservative ideas were validated?

Are we on one edge of the paradigm today? Are we on the verge of a swing or the cusp of a revolution? Is the frame stretching or ready to burst? For me, the answer to these questions is “it depends on the day”. With that in mind, I can’t accurately predict where the state of affairs will be in 2019, 2020 or at the end of the next election cycle. It feels like we can survive if we accept responsibility for the process and become engaged in the debate. Is it optimism? Maybe, but without that hope, I need to concede that we are doomed to dangerous conflict. What are you going to choose?

Make Today Remarkable,

B

 

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncategorized · Uncertainty

Learning Curiousity

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.
Mario Testino

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,

B