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.

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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

Original Thought · Uncertainty

How to Combat Certainty in 5 No-so-Easy Steps

Certainty lays itself at our footsteps, across our thresh hold, in our email inbox and crams itself tightly into our heads. It robs us of creativity because ‘ a conclusion reached becomes a conclusion held.’ We conduct pseudo-experiments, gather strings of garble data, and hearken back to the theories of great scholars without so much a howdy do. The research confirms a suspicion and aligns with a desire and so it becomes a premise and then a fact. We continue to measure it and make it sacred. It can never be questioned, doubted or checked for its current relativity. Charging down the path towards an expectation, the certain choices lead to a specific and potentially altogether wrong destination. The surprise we feel when the findings, response or sales are chalked up to something else. We must have misread the data. The focus group was biased. The communication collateral wasn’t clear. But we never stop to consider the certainty that took us down the yellow brick road to Utopia. That certainty must be forever true. We need a manifesto of destruction and adaptation to lean comfortably into uncertainty but for the time being here are five steps to make your certainty intentionally uncomfortable.

1 Reframe. Begin with rattling reframing questions. ” If x isn’t entirely accurate, what might I observe?” ” When I am sure of my position, what might I be missing?” ” If I am not curious enough to see a different perspective, why do I expect different results?” Keep asking yourself challenging big picture questions so that you can concede that there may be another valid point of view, opinion or approach.

2 Reflect. I pause and wonder, where did this surety come from? Is my unshakeable belief based on bias, indoctrination, ‘education’ desire? Why am I afraid, uneasy, resentful that there could be many possible approaches? As I swim in the reflection, I learn more about myself that about any rigidity that I am harboring.

3 Refrain. It is a bit ironic that refrain can mean both ” a regularly occurring phrase” and ” to stop oneself from doing something.” This step is a bit of both. On occasion, when you hear yourself tugging on the same threads that you have pulled for years, I compel you to stop unraveling the tapestry and in just this one instance don’t go down the familiar path. Become a tourist who curiously explores a new journey and records your observations.

4 Remove. Take yourself out of the mix, when your certainty turns into intimidation and bullying. When you dig in your heels and because a tightly held ‘value’ is being challenged and you rise to a defensive or aggressive posture – remove yourself from the situation and repeat the first three steps.

5 Release. Release the tension of trying to hold onto the unknowable. Feel the stress drain away when you allow the edge of uncertainty to overlap with your defensive position. Relish the relaxation of curiosity and allow yourself to be renewed by unimagined possibilities.

Make today, and next year, remarkable,

B

 

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Hacking Silence

Silence is golden – the fuller quote is  ‘speech is silver; silence is golden’ from the same era as ‘ Silence is a woman’s best garment’.

“Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together; that at length they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the daylight of Life, which they are thenceforth to rule.” ~ Thomas Carlyle

Convincing language and sentiment but how can we achieve comfort in silence?  I am not talking about my silence in the face of conversation or silence that may be seen as rude. Rather I am referring to silence as a contemplative, reflective, restorative state. With the whirring of the world how do I quiet my mind and my tongue?

It begins by turning off the cacophony – TV, Radio, music, Internet, phones and secluding yourself in the practice of silence. I suggest that 10 minutes is a good starting point with a goal of stretching the peace once it moves from anxious to bliss. Like most things, of worth, it requires a daily effort. Set aside 15 minutes, tomorrow, to prepare and rest in silence. Note what disturbs your peace so that it can be remidied for Tuesday and beyond.

Silence flourishes better in certain states ; maintain a period of absolute bodily stillness in a type of silent meditation every morning, a time just to allow everything to be without your controlling interest to appear. Practice stillness and silence together for the greatest blessings.

Be still and silent,

B

Update : Couldn’t resist this picture from Bored Panda which came a couple hours after this post went up.

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