Original Thought · Uncertainty

Deliberately

When faced with a choice, is it always black and white? Is it ever that polar or are there other decisions that widen the options in each moment. In Calgary, we are voting in a couple of weeks on whether we should submit a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics. The nonbinding referendum asks what seems like a simple question on which until last week, I was sure I would vote “No.”
I had a meeting with a Yes supporter on an unrelated issue. I asked, “ are people in your circle were talking about the Olympic bid?” He said; “ yes, and he was enjoying the discussions.”
I said the same thing I have been saying for a couple of months; “if the vote were today, I would vote No.” Before he asked why I chimed in; “ it isn’t an economic consideration, it is about social issues. I worry that this will draw focus and attention away from the important community, environmental, and social issues we are facing.”
He asked; “what if we can be deliberate in putting those issues front and center in the bid and the way that we do the games?” “ What if in 7 years, we could say that Calgary is the most accessible city in North America?” “ What if we made every decision and took every action with the intent of being deliberately nonintrusive in any development?” “ Could we work towards solving homelessness because we invited the world into our city?”
I haven’t been convinced, and he isn’t finished. He reached out today and offered to connect me and my cohort with resources and that he would be available to answer wicked questions. I am not convinced, but I am being deliberately curious and reflective.

How many other times have I seen my choice as binary when it could have been composite? Am I making biased choices without consideration for how I might leverage a different option to achieve a bigger goal? Is my brain capable of wrestling with a bigger landscape? Am I willing?

Take a deliberation break today and see how big you can expand your options.

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Flowers Grow in the Dark

 

flowers

Daffodils, pansies, asters and even roses may not be appreciated on dull gray days or at night, but they continue to be there, and they continue to offer their inspiration and beauty.

The title of this post comes from a line in Rebecca Solnit’s “Hope in the Dark.” As I was commuting this morning, I was listening to Chapter 21 and was shaken by the reference to flowers. It was a bright morning, and the majesty of the wildflowers along the pathway was easy to spot but having returned home late at night along the same route, I started wondering if they were blooming with such glory after the sun went down.

After a bit of research, or what we consider research today, I discovered that while not entirely correct flowers do continue their growth process regardless of the light conditions.

How well do I stand up to that test? When things are going well, my motivation is high, and I can border on mania. I am productive, creative, cordial, strong, smart, and likable.  When a dark spell sets in, either externally created or internally generated, I don’t do as well. But this is when shining is the most necessary. How can I be the best version regardless of the conditions? How can I become agnostic about my surroundings and internal pathology?

For regular readers, you know what I am going to posit. I must choose to plow through, climb over, go around the obstacles (weather, resources, people, me) and intentionally keep moving forward towards today’s goal that leads towards the higher level goals in my life. I will still falter and fail. I will continue to mope under certain conditions, but if I lay my intention – ‘to continue forward” on the table in front of me, I know that I will continue my growth process.

Take a look at the flowers today, breathe them in so they are captured on or tongue, in your nose and as a part of your memories so you can find them again when darkness sets in. Then be courageous and keep moving towards your goals.

B

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Its Up to You (believe it or not)

Are you optimistic, pessimistic, neutralistic? Is the world abundant, scarce or three bears just right? Is your view of the world about how you perceive the truth, your disposition, and/or your experiences? I can find myself feeling ‘hell-in-a-handbasket’ like my father, my grandfather and I am sure on occasion my grandchildren or I can deliberately expect and demand a different perspective from myself and different results from the world. My tendencies are a matter of wiring and if I don’t want to continue wallowing in self-pity I can undertake to rewire my brain to observe the magic, beauty, and mystery alongside the tragedy, hatred and vitriol.

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For me, it begins with morning meditation. I use a guided application called “Simple Habits” and practice is the first activity I schedule after my feet hit the floor. It isn’t a spiritual exercise as much as a consciousness and mindfulness kick start. This morning’s meditation was about gratitude for discomfort and how the aches and pains I feel physically and emotionally are likely my body and brain attempting to protect me from additional harm. Without feeling the twinge in my left Achille’s tendon, I might run until something snaps. If I didn’t feel anxious, I might jump off the next cliff without some measure of investigation and reflection. If I didn’t feel regret for not saying something to a loved one in a time of trouble, I might become callous and distant.
I don’t have any chronic conditions that cause me distress do I am not sure how someone could feel grateful for that kind of infliction but I encourage you to take a moment to understand and appreciate your stress, aches, or anxiety. Don’t allow yourself to wallow in it and don’t just accept the situation if there are options to improve or dissipate them.

My tactics for reframing are ecological, entertaining, and explicit. If I want to change my patterns, thoughts or actions I need to be aware of the surroundings that I find myself in and the surroundings that fit with how I see the changed self I want to become. In order to be more grateful, I can’t be surrounded by ungrateful or selfish people. I need to be surrounded by light, love, and learning. I can’t continue doing the same things in the same places in the same way that brought me to the valley of distrust and disappointment. For the circumstances to change, I need to change my where and how and who. Escaping from stinking thinking is essential. It means that there are people in my life today that can’t be in my life tomorrow. There are places I need to stop going and actions that I must stop undertaking. We all have a preferred or imagined ecology that fulfills more of our aspirations and unfortunately, it won’t manifest itself. We need to seek it out through our actions.

I can be shallow and unfocused and unless the change process is fun, I know that I might retreat to the depths that I am trying to escape. Fun need not be onerous or expensive. Meeting with uplifting people for an activity, a meeting, a coffee, a walk will put a smile on my face even when or because the conversation is an adventure. I met with three friends this morning for ninety minutes and we ranged across the sublime and inane to the profound and debatable. We laughed, we shared, we disagreed and we hugged. We expressed our gratitude for each other and the time spent and booked another gathering for a month from now. I left inspired, thankful and challenged. The stimulus of camaraderie and conversation caused neurons to fire against my hippocampus and began nurturing new pathways.

My final tactic; explicit is really an e word for intentional. ( I love alliteration so much that I always trying to catch it in my lists – ecological, entertaining, and explicit). In my worldview, nothing happens organically. Or nothing will predictably happen without intention. I must invest my resources and time in creating a V2.0 or V11.5 of me and I need to be vested in the outcome.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” ~ Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

Make Today Remarkable, by choice,

Bob

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Original Thought · Self Improvement · Sharing Economy · Teamwork · Uncertainty

Fear versus Hope

I am afraid that the fear mongers are winning and yes I see the irony. After writing for weeks about hope and her great liberating, creative, and generous power I find myself slipping over to the dark side more often than I like. Even though I understand that choosing hope has a positive and infectious impact on my life and those around me, I feel like I have been inundated by media, social media, and conversations with a message of distrust, hatred, and terror. So much of what I hear and read has a bias towards suspicion, division, and polarization. Is our world tumbling out of control? Will the schism we are creating bring dire and fatal consequences for our species?

I am taking off the grey coloured glasses of despair and seeing the world in the brighter glow of hope. What I take in through my eyes and ears will be curated towards the best of our city, province, country. I am not going to naively ignore news but I will intentionally seek generative, positive stories. Afterall, the best and the worst are nothing more than fictions that we tell ourselves and if collectively more of us lean into narratives about responsible government and personal responsibility, climate care, equity, joyful relationships, then more coverage of those will be offered and more will be generated.
My position isn’t Pollyanna pie in the sky. It is a deliberate and intentional choice. I can be positive and passionate and opinionated and respectful with being inane, insane, or weak. Hope can raise the water for my little boat and can carry a flotilla of like minded travellers. Therein lies the rub. I am looking for people who are willing and courageous enough to say no to fear and yes to hope.

We can build a new movement; one that is democratic without being political. One that is passionate without being partisan. One that is confident without the vitriol of certainty. Are you interested in joining others to create something hopeful, even if it just adds joy and inspiration to those on the boats? What if the Armada’s positivity infects a few dozen, a few hundred, a few thousand new sailors? Are you seeking hope? Do you know others around you who are ready to stake their position and take a stand? If we created an online presence like a Facebook page (or other suggestions)
would you join and contribute? Hope won’t win if we just lurk around her edges. We need to wrap our arms around her and then tell others our stories of hope.

Today I had three conversations with younger people from early 20’s to early 30’s who seem immune to the rubbish that is being spewed through conventional and new mediums. Their outlook on today, tomorrow and the future were refreshingly expectant. They weren’t so much concerned with the trappings of the world but more interested in what they are and will experience and the value that they can add to their friends, family and community.

They believe they are and can make a difference in the world and they are. It is that simple and that complicated but it began with a choice to view the world in a light shining brightly.

Make Today Hopeful,

Bonce-you-choose-hope-anything-is-possible

Self Improvement · Uncertainty

Contentment

 

soloWhere does discontent come from? How can I shift the blame? the perception, the perspective? Is discontent merely a figment of an ego driven mind? I crave attention, I don’t get attention so I feel discontent. I want more, I don’t get more so I feel discontent. Can the process be reversed? I am content, I don’t get more, I don’t want more. I am content, I don’t get attention, I don’t seek attention.
That would mean that contentment, like so many other things, is a choice I get to make. I can look at the menu and choose to embrace my current circumstances without expectation, envy, or external drivers.

If chasing riches, adding Facebook friends, impressing bosses, buying stuff,
believing myths is a way to find satisfaction, why can’t we bypass the noise and get right to the music? ” I choose to be satisfied” ” I will sing my own song of happiness”.

Regardless of what the world tells us, we should desire, can’t we still seek something else? I was party to the race to fame and fortune and still find myself running alongside the sprinters but I continue to try live a life less conventional. On the best of days, I hold deeply and loosely the values and relationships that mean the most to me. I swim in the satisfaction that my ‘heart’ feels and rest on the shore as my mind’s cravings begin to still.

I certainly haven’t mastered any of this and can find myself wanting, wishing, chasing, coercing and cursing but I can choose to be satisfied in the moment and joyful in being present. I remind myself that what the world wants me to want isn’t what I want. I remember that I am satiated by music, books, love, nature and agitated by the clamouring of stuff and accumulation. I measured how long I felt satisfied after buying a new outfit. The glow was strong in the store but faded as I was heading home. I got a rebound on the occasion that I first wore the shirt and shorts but in total, I received less than 40 minutes of good feelings from the purchase. On the other hand, I can spend hours in the company of friends and family or in a great book and be filled with contentment. The return on investment from the latter outstrips the former even as the principle message I receive tells me the opposite.

Today, I spent time accomplishing small tasks; cleaning, mending, writing and enjoying reading, riding, running and resting. I had lunch on a rooftop and took in the view, did maintenance on our home and cleaned up from a storm. My day was around people that I care about and I come to the end of another rotation feeling fulfilment and happiness and I don’t have anything material to show for it. I will see if I can end on the same note tomorrow having played a similar tune and I will try not to add anything to my closets, bookshelves, or larder.

Can you acquire less tomorrow and feel joy and gratification because that is the choice you make when you get up? Are you willing to give it a try?

Make Tomorrow Remarkably Satisfying,

Bob

Original Thought · Self Improvement

We All Get to Decide

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

In light of so many events this week, I needed to be reminded of this quote and I thank the fates and the twitter post that brought it to me. I have chosen to use my strengths to strengthen others for the past decade. There have been many days that I did that consistently and fewer days that devolved into self-righteousness.

happiness quote

There have been days that I was completely wrong.  Days that my enormous ego got in the way and tricked me into focusing on just me. And there have been days that I was ignorant; ignorant of the circumstances, ignorant of how my action impacted others and ignorant in my choice of language.

The good thing is that tomorrow I get to decide whether to walk in the light or succumb to darkness. That good news is yours too. Whatever you did or said or thought yesterday or today, you get to choose a different path when you get a fresh 24 when you wake up. Plant a seed tonight. Before you fall into slumber, think about how you will be a better light tomorrow and wake up with that intention fresh in your heart.

Make Today Remarkably Generous,

B

Original Thought · Self Improvement · Sharing Economy

Is My Conclusion Unreasonable?

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”.

data

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,

B

Original Thought · Self Improvement

Cycles

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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

Self Improvement · Teamwork

Are You Exercising Due Consideration?

What if you took as much time and consideration about your next charity donation as you do about your next smartphone? (Samsung Note 7 aside). Would you check out available options that would meet the issue itch you are trying to scratch? Did you know that there are pros and cons to every charity? Do you just ‘buy’ the default without thinking about how your gift might be used? Do you visit websites and read reports and stories? Compelling narratives about how and why individual organizations enact their mission and the difference it is making are easily available or they should be. If I can’t find them regarding a specific agency, I drop them from my list of potential recipients.

I have heard friends talk about how they visited the Apple store 4 times and talked to 3 different geniuses and read consumer reviews about a product they were considering that might make their lives marginally better (or worse). They then rush to the Red Cross website in response to news coverage of Hurricane Matthew hitting Haiti and without consideration donate money to a life and death situation. I asked ” Did you consider Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)?” ” or Oxfam?” ” or Care Canada?” They shrug and indicate that it isn’t their job to investigate if they money would be put to good use. With that attitude (and no judgement of the agencies named here) they might just as well be throwing the money in the air.

Each opportunity to make a difference that we discover should be given the IRC test. Is the action immediate? You are ready to do something and putting off the action will not benefit you or those people that are impacted by the issue or problem. If an action meets the immediate criteria, it will also immediately cause ripples. Not all actions are going to make the same ripple and while we can never be sure how the ripples will grow, we can anticipate what the results might be.
The second criteria is relevance. We can get caught up doing things that are not relevant to the issue or a solution. In order to be relevant, the action needs to have significant bearing on or connection to the act. Don’t be fooled into doing ‘busy work’ just for the sake of doing something. Ask questions about the effect of your actions. “What difference does this acton make?”
The third and possibly most important criteria for choosing everyday action that the action needs to be concrete. While it is important to raise your awareness of an issue, attending an information session does not constitute concrete action. After your awareness has been raised the next step becomes action.

Donating money as a humanitarian response to a catastrophe or a chronic social problem is a type of action that many opt to exercise. What if you just did a simple IRC test – will the money have an immediate impact, will it be relevant to the issue and the anxiety that I am feeling, and is the money going to make a concrete difference for the impacted population? If yes – proceed. If no – look for a better way or a different cause.

The world needs us all to become more discerning and diligent in the choices we make.
You can start today.

B

Monday 168 report Sleep 18, Workout 3, Learn 4, walk 6, Read 3, Eat 2, Netflix 6, Work 6

Tuesday Sleep 14, Learn 4, Workout 4, walk 2, travel 2, Read 4, Work 10, Eat 2, Write 2, TV 4

Original Thought · Uncategorized

Choices

Can the world change at a global scale or is all meaningful and lasting innovation local? This week, I heard John McKnight say ” generousity is the lubricant that makes neighbourhood viable.”. I don’t believe we, as individual actors, have the capacity to create and deliver the level of generousity he envisions except at the most local and democratic level. In 1804 Thomas Jefferson was running to be PoTUS on a campaign that could be summed up as ” I believe every American, given the opportunity and circumstances, can and will take care of herself, her family and her community”.

I may be naive and too optimistic but I trust that the spirit of magnanimity and the commitment to our tribe is still alive, if not well, in North America. If we can awaken personal responsibility, involvement and awareness of consequences we can begin rebuilding our local communities on generousity, care and respect.

The breakdown of global systems, organizations and theories, while devastating, may be the critical impetus to allow mutual aid and unmeasured reciprocity to embed itself into our culture again. As we need each other, we can serve each other. Brexit, divisive European and American elections, financial and environmental crises, distrust and anger are matched by a rise of optimism, service, entrepreneurial spirit and loyalty. There will be clashes and ‘haters are gonna hate’ but past the vitriol there is a new way waiting for us to steel ourselves and demonstrate the seed of hope.
The news, as it is portrayed and the divisions it creates is one way to view the circumstances. But a change of perspective fosters a different response and results in a different future. We can, individually and in small tribes, change how we see the world, how we respond to challenges, a alter the future with relentless small scale incremental shifts in our decisions and actions.

We can choose not to participate in the fall and degradation. It is a matter of commitment to a different path. Make your choice and make your community.

B

Choices #celebrateblessings