Weekly Insights and Inspiration for Flying Higher in Endeavors that Make a Difference
I was about to turn 50. I was a husband, father, teacher, and musician. In each of those endeavors, I was doing well enough by anyone's standards.
I knew I could do more. I believed I could do better. I was ready to do both more and better in all my endeavors.
I began by looking inward. I reevaluated and reconnected with my core values, my inherent talents, and where I belonged.
Then I started looking outward at how I was approaching what I did, how I was doing it, and who I was doing it with.
And I decided that I need to change and that I could change right now.
I changed my mindset by simply acknowledging all the goodness I already possessed and all the possibility available to me. I changed my posture by deliberately engaging with others with greater empathy and generosity. And I started flying higher by intentionally engaging in meaningful endeavors that were done with and for others.
It was terrifying and it was thrilling. I had a lot of...
The history of music, Western music at least, is the story of growing more and more comfortable with dissonance. Over time, our ability to embrace, appreciate, and dance with this tension has increased.
Listen to a Gregorian chant and then tune in to composition by Ornette Coleman and you'll get a sense of how far we've come in what level of discomfort we're able to tolerate, and even expect, in the music we listen to.
Dissonance is a signal. In music, in life, and in your work, dissonance lets you know that change is about to happen, that this is worth paying attention to, and that it's time to lean in.
Those butterflies you feel. The noise in your head. They arise when you're about to do something different. Something that might even make a difference.
Dissonance isn't something to ignore or shy away from. It's a reminder that the tried and true need to be tweaked. It's an invitation to join in making change happen.
When was the last time you paid attention and leaned...
For those that endeavor, the conventional wisdom is "go big or go home." Following this advice is precisely why so few enterprises ever get started or off the ground. Instead of "swinging for the fences" and then quitting when you "strike out," why not strategically "settle" for "base hits?" Why not go small?
It's so easy to "hide" in big dreams. Big plans too often lead to spinning cycles collecting dots and getting your ducks in a row. You don't need new tools or training. You need to put yourself on the hook and get going. To get where you want to be you need to start where you are and take the next smallest step into the possibility you're aiming for.
The SVS (Smallest Viable Step)
This idea comes from a chat I had with my friend, Marie Schacht. Sure, you need to have an end in mind, but when deciding what to do next, choose the next SVS (smallest viable step). Your next SVS is your best guess at the next best step that will propel you and your work the furthest and...
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"Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn
Books are my go-to source for inspiration and information in my endeavors. Here are four books that currently inform my journey in developing Creative On Purpose and help me enhances the lives of those who collide with it.
Happy: Why Everything Is More or Less Fine, by Derren Brown
Derren presents a no-nonsense approach to living the good life that touches on Stoicism, positive psychology, and pokes holes in some of the more silly sides of the self-help genre. This is a profound, entertaining, and funny read for those ready to stress less and thrive more in life and work.
Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, by Sheila Heen et al
This is a topic I took...
At the heart of any endeavor is the idea that you enhance your life most through work that enhances the lives of others. Some know what their next project is and who it's for. Others are seeking both an enterprise and an audience for it.
Whichever group you align with, there's always room to endeavor better. But how?
The answer is not by signing up for more learning, purchasing more tools, or looking for more options. You already possess everything you need to begin and grow an enterprise that serves people you care about. The essential thing is aligning who you are with what you're good at and find collaborators and clients who share your values and need your talents to help enhance their lives.
But where to start? Here's a quickstart guide.
First, stop getting hung up on the idea that the “right” project or audience even exists. It doesn’t. But an alright project for a group of people you already know does. Start where you are, with what you have, and who...
"One’s ultimate aim is to do all in one’s power to shoot straight, and the same applies with our ultimate goal." - Cicero
What is the goal of the archer who steps onto the field, notches her arrow, draws it back, and takes aim at the target?
Most assume that the goal of the archer is to hit the bullseye. For some archers, that may well be. But not for the archer whose aim is to excel. That archer's goal is to put forth her best effort.
"Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle. Some things are within our control and some things are not." - Epictetus
Here's the thing. The wise archer understands what is and and what is not within her control. The archer also knows that some of things that are not within her control are within her influence.
She understands and accepts that while she does not ultimately control the outcome of that effort, she does has agency over her aim and her effort.
Missing the bullseye doesn't...
It's commencement season. One period of life ends, another begins. How are you helping the "graduates" in your life to step into possibility and potential?
Most of us work for a living and we spend a chunk of our lives doing that work. Yet most of us don't much get advice or guidance about choosing that work with intention and integrity.
Some of us spend a lot of time "occupied" in work that neither excites nor fulfills us. How can you help the graduates you know avoid this? How can you help someone discover and develop work that nurtures and nourishes them? How can you do this yourself?
Here are a few tips I'm sharing with the graduates in my life:
It’s spring in Southwestern Virginia. Time to make some important decisions about what flowers to plant in the beds around our small home, annuals or perennials?
Here’s the thing. Annuals bloom only once, but they’re brighter, showier, cheaper, and require less care than perennials.
Perennials, on the other hand, return and continue to grow season after season. They have structure. Perennials are more hardy and resilient than annuals. Perennials are able to mature.
Annuals are “one-hit-wonders.” Perennials are in it for the long haul.
Annual or perennial, which are you?
Let’s keep flying higher together!
I find a "to-do" list to be a seductive way to "hide" from the "real" work I need to do. What about you?
Too often my to-do list is full of non-essential tasks like "organize my top desk drawer." Just as often, my to-do list is made up of outright distractions or tasks that get done "automatically" and don't require being listed at all.
What helps me move forward in meaningful endeavors is a "must-do" list. This is a one-item list. The one next best small step forward into the change I seek to make. One thing that, when accomplished, will serve as a large lever ratcheting me and my enterprise forward.
Everything else gets put onto my "stop-doing" list and is ignored until my must-do list of one is done.
What's on your must-do list? What will you move to your stop-doing list until what must be done get's done?
Let's keep flying higher together!