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Fighting the same battles

We all have our battles.

Many of which we fight time and time again.

I was reminded of this yesterday, as I perused the archives of this site. Over the years, despite my efforts not to, I’ve repeated several articles. Different words, same exact themes. The same battles.

It reminds me to keep fighting the good fights. And that I am not alone in repeating my battles.

You’re not alone either. Keep going. Keep practicing. Keep fighting.

Sound Bite Culture

Sound bites are sexy. They are attention grabbing. They are clear and succinct.

Trouble is? Our world isn’t.

Our world is complicated, our challenges multi-faceted and our solutions, they are shades of grey.

And although they have their place in marketing, they should not have a place in our decision making. We seriously undermine our ability to understand and appreciate the many facets of the truth when what we hold true is a sound bite.

Remember, the sexy sound bite doesn’t lead to the nuanced truth.

Wisdom From Einstein

Einstein offered one of my favorite quotes, ever.

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift
and the rational mind, a faithful servant.

We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

It reminds me to listen, carefully.

I attended a conference last week with lively discussion about the deliberate introduction of serendipity into our lives.

We are becoming more and more saturated by information and that is highly curated. In general, this is a great thing — its more efficient, more interesting and generally validating. That’s pretty hard to argue with.

And that is exactly the challenge: serendipity, which is inherently uncertain, struggles to win the competition for attention with curation. Curation is an almost guaranteed dopamine hit… while seeking serendipity is anything but guaranteed (and may be negative).

This explains why we check our phones rather than strike up random conversation.

Serendipity fuels creativity, innovation and luck. We need it to outgrow our own limitations. Yet taking the risk to seek it out is becoming more and more challenging.

Internal Expecations

I am a horrible painter. It’s true.

I’m sure I could become better, master some techniques, but that’s not the point.

I enjoy painting because I have absolutely zero attachment to the outcome.

I expect it to be bad. I don’t care when it is bad.

I have no fear when it comes to painting – even showing it to other people because I have no ego attachment to the outcome. I don’t care that I am bad and I don’t care if other people think that I am the worst painter on earth.

My ability to paint (or lack thereof) is not part of my self-identified value.

What this tells me is that the fear of being seen comes not from skill or lack thereof — but from internal expectations of your performance and your confidence that you can meet them.

If you’re afraid, maybe you should try caring less and perhaps even enjoying being less-than-amazing at something.

Want easy? Pull yourself towards what you want.

Mostly, we push ourselves internally. You know, issue threats, feel guilty about our choices, say things so mean that we would never say them to anyone else… all in the name of getting what we want.

Change through pushing is hard because it feels hard. 

We’re clearly doing something we don’t want to do (otherwise, why would we need threats?).

We’re always one small slip up from failure, virtually never achieving success.

We’re punishing ourselves (way) more than we are celebrating.

Sounds hard. Actually, sounds like it sucks.

There’s a better way. And, it’s easy because it feels easy.

In the same way that pushing feels hard, pulling feels easy. It’s all in the framework.

BUT you want change that isn’t easy? You know, picking salad over hot wings… or work over play… 

NEWS FLASH: you don’t want pain in your life… and in turn, you don’t actually want things that are painful.

The key is to know and understand exactly what you want so badly.

Identify what you want and what it takes to get it.
Then decide if you still want it.

Deciding is a key part of success and yet 99% of people completely skip it!

Sure, everyone “wants” to be a billionaire… but when you look at the choices and the sacrifices that becoming a billionaire entails, a lot of people are going to opt out. They don’t actually want to be a billionaire.

There is no shame in this. It is supremely wise to decide that you don’t want to do what it takes to get what you “want” — AND, in turn, to realize that you don’t actually want that thing!

Frame all decisions around what you want —
NOT what you don’t want.

You don’t like being told no. You like being told yes.

Your goal is to keep what you want front and center and to say yes to yourself as much as possible.

Suddenly, you aren’t saying “no” to the glass of wine, you’re saying yes to delightful early mornings… you aren’t saying “no” to your friends, you’re saying yes to your dream to be an author…

And, again, because this is worth repeating: its okay to find out that you don’t actually want what you thought you wanted.

As hard as pushing is, pulling is easy.
It’s like a cheat code to success.

The hardest part? Keeping what you want front and center.

 

Yesterday I listened to Tim Ferris’s podcast with Peter Diamandis, where one of the questions focused on how to disrupt / reform our education system.

Peter had an interesting and eloquent response focused on how Artificial Intelligence will completely change the way that we teach and learn.

As someone who has spent the majority of her career in online education: AMEN!

YES! AI has huge potential to change the way that we teach. We’ll be able to play to each student’s strengths, individualize the curriculum and challenges, gamify learning and level the playing field in a completely novel way.

BUT – and this is a huge but – how we teach is not the most interesting question in education reform.

WHY are we teaching?

Why we are teaching is the much bigger question that we need to answer. This is how we will be able to make good decisions about what we teach and how we teach it.

Currently, our education system is stuck in a highly industrialized mindset. Its about clocking in, rote memorization and not rocking the boat. It focuses on a single type of intelligence and relies heavily on carrot & stick motivation.

This is far from ideal training for the service and creativity sector jobs that currently comprise the majority our economy. In fact, you can point to it as a hindrance.

Typically, I think that we would say education is to prepare our children for the future. 

Or one can argue that education should focus on fostering happiness.

Or one can assert that we send kids to school to take children off their parent’s hands – glorified daycare, if you will.

The reason that WHY is so much harder – and so much more compelling – is that it requires us to agree on a life goal for our society. Do we want our society to be happy, healthy, competitive, wealthy, powerful, contemplative, creative, regimented, disciplined, focused, carefree??? Should it be different for each student (probably). How is that determined?

Deciding why we are teaching requires us to define success. 

Defining success requires us to be contemplative, philosophical and slow down a little. Its a values issue with nothing black & white… with thousands of shades of grey.

Because, ultimately, no matter how good we get at teaching… it won’t be effective unless we know why we are teaching in the first place.

Pig Headed Determination

Here’s the thing with learning and testing:

Your results are only as good as your discipline.

This means you need crazy, pig headed determination to reap the benefits of what you are learning and testing.

Your morning routine can only help you if you actually build it… and stick to it! No amount of information will help you.

It doesn’t matter if the topic is health and food… or sales strategy and cold calls — your knowledge doesn’t matter, the actions do. Knowledge makes actions smarter. Absolutely. But there still has to be action.

Pig headed determination is one way to get on the action-filled highway.

Limits help creativity thrive

Yesterday, I mentioned my capsule wardrobe (inspired by UnFancy) and how I learned a huge lesson about valuing quality over quantity. Well, I learned another big one too:

Limits help creativity thrive!

It’s crazy to think that I feel more creative in my much, much smaller closet, especially since there aren’t endless combinations or tank tops in every-shade-of-everything. But, I do. Just today, I found a really fun outfit that I had never worn — and I’m more than 2.5 months into a 37 item cycle.

By having less (my limitation), I am forced to try different things and step outside of my comfort zone much more frequently.

Creativity lives outside of our comfort zone.

When there are no limits, our comfort zone is like a huge building. There is no reason to step outside of it because there is always another path to go down.

It doesn’t feel like it should be stifling because it’s so large… but, it is.

If you limit it and make the building much smaller, you’re much more likely to start opening those doors and seeing what’s out there.

This is why the command — Do something creative! — is much more challenging than Come up with a dance you can do while sitting.

I bet you’d come up with a much more creative answer to the second question than the first one.

Shift Your Time Horizon

People who know me well, know that I am all about the reframe. My Mom has even called it my super power.

Reframes help us look at the same situation from a different perspective — and can blow our minds at how differently we feel about it.

Today I want to share the most consistently powerful reframe I know. It works for almost every situation.

Shift your time horizon.

Stop thinking about the next hour, day or year.
Start thinking about a year from now, a decade from now or flash forward to your death bed.

Not a whole lot that stresses us out right now matters anymore, eh?

Which brings us to one of life’s central paradoxes, as far as I can tell.

Little things don’t matter that much in the scheme of things…
But they create the big things — so, really, they’re everything!