Weekly Insights and Inspiration for Flying Higher in Endeavors that Make a Difference
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"Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind." - James Russell Lowell
Books have always been my go-to source of inspiration and information. These four books, more than any others, inform my journey in building Creative On Purpose into a sustainable brand that enhances the lives of those who collide with it.
Meditations: A New Translation, by Gregory Hays
I chronicled my lifelong relationship with the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius in an article I was commissioned to write for the Modern Stoicism blog. Creative On Purpose began as a project intended to share the virtues of ancient Stoic philosophy as it applied to creative enterprises. Marcus' reminders to himself about...
Want to develop your potential? Awaken the giant within? Achieve excellence in an endeavor worthy of your time and talents?
Some say it takes guts, grit, and grind. Others say it requires planning, purpose, and perseverance. Perhaps it's merely up to fate, faith, and fortune.
Regardless of how you realize your promise, there's one strategy that can really help you get out of your head and out of your own way. Stop taking yourself so damn seriously!
Sure, dream big, go large, and fly high; but remember that things rarely turn out just the way you think they will or should. Embrace the fact that you, and everyone else, are stumbling their way toward excellence. Adopt a posture of blundering.
Here are just a few of the benefits of the fine art of blundering:
For some, merely seeing the word "suffer" triggers memories and feelings of pain, injury, or loss. Why is that? Where does suffering even come from?
Ancient wisdom tells us that it's our proclivity for attachment.
“Attachment is the root of suffering.” - The Buddha
Why human beings are attached to ideas and impressions about themselves, others and their situation that causes suffering are less important than recognizing that these attachments are choices. You don't have to cling to beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that are not serving you.
But how can you make "better" choices? Choices that, instead of feeding your suffering, cultivate a sense of thriving, even as you struggle? Here are five additional "A's" to help you free yourself from the self-imposed suffering of attachment.
Acknowledgment - Struggle and stress are natural. Without them, you couldn't define, let alone experience, peace, and prosperity. Don't avoid challenge or misfortune, embrace them....
“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle. Some things are within our control, and some things are not.” - Epictetus
Agency is as intoxicating as it is elusive. When the breaks go your way, it’s easy to believe it’s due to your intelligence and planning. When things go awry, it’s easy to blame others or fate.
The truth is, very little is within your control, but at the same time, you do control everything required to maintain your sense of well-being and prosperity.
You ultimately control only two things. You determine how you choose to perceive yourself, others, and your situation. You also control what you decide to do next.
Everything else is beyond your control.
Your body is subject to disease, decline, and ultimately death. The attitude and behavior of others are for them to decide, not you. And there are forces far more powerful than you at work in the social, political, economic, cultural, and geographical arenas.
Ultimately, it is impossible to know if an endeavor will succeed. What does “success” even look like? Too often success is confused with popularity and profits.
What if you measured success by the well-being it generates for yourself and others? What if success is doing well enough today so that you can get up and do it again tomorrow?
Take care of the important things, like maintaining your integrity and stepping forward with intention. The less important things, like how much recognition and reward you receive, will take care of themselves.
One thing is assured. If you never start your endeavor, you’ll never know if it has legs. Traction requires movement. If you don’t build it, they certainly won’t come.
And what if your endeavor fails? Everything you do rubs up against the possibility that it might not work. It’s very likely that your effort won’t unfold as planned. But that’s precisely how integrity and intention are tested and...
What defines some sound as "music?" It's organization and intent. Music is sound meant to communicate and connect and rhythm is the organizing element of that sound. Music is done out loud, with and for others, and it has a beat.
With music, as it is in any meaningful endeavor, timing really is everything!
Rhythm comes from the ancient Greek word ῥυθμός, rhythmos, and defined as "regular recurring motion, symmetry." Repetition and balance help your endeavor, musical or otherwise, establish patterns worth recognizing and remembering. Rhythm also encourages movement, forward motion, and a sense of progression.
It's also important to establish frequency (how often), and period (how long). Frequency and period determine if what you're sharing is a riff, a movement, or a complete symphony.
Intentionally establishing a steady beat (the "pulse" your audience taps their foot to), and the tempo (the pace or speed of that movement), is essential. It can...
What does it mean to be devoted?
We don't talk much about devotion these days. Why have we lost touch with the idea that we can be enthusiastically loyal and true to an idea, or cause, or another person? What's wrong with observing and honoring the goodness, worth, and even sanctity of something or someone beyond ourselves?
We live in an age of limitless information, opportunities, and distractions. Maybe that makes it harder for us to pick and stick with a single plan, purpose, or person? Perhaps all this choice has made us self-absorbed? Have we become thoughtless, selfish and unwilling to commit?
I don't think so.
Whatever the reason is for our lack of devotion, we possess the capacity and opportunity right now to make a different choice. We can, with intention and integrity, go "all in" with something or someone worthy of our devotion.
Realizing our potential as thoughtful, generous, and compassionate human beings requires devotion. Only the devoted can fully...
The significance of what it means to testify goes beyond the context in which the term is often heard today. There's more power in the act of testifying than what it means in the legal or even religious sense.
The root of "testify" means "witness." Bearing witness in a legal or religious context is important, but on a deeper level, a human level, testifying is truly profound. Standing up to be seen and speaking up to be heard is a courageous act.
To testify is also the generous act of sharing your truth. You assert based on your personal experience and observation. But it speaks to a universal concern or endeavor. Most important, to testify is to commit to action based on your belief.
"This is what I see. This is what I think. This is what I'm doing."
Bearing witness creates tension. Those beholding your testimony must decide what they do next. Testimony invites collaboration and the opportunity to build trust and forward motion. It also invites...
It's more than a hobby, but not necessarily your job or role. It’s a vocation found at the intersection of who you are, what you're good at, and where you belong. An endeavor is work that you are meant to do now.
An endeavor cultivates gratitude because you don’t have to do it, you get to do it. It also generates appreciation in others because it is a gift generously shared with those who need it.
Endeavors shun the status quo. These efforts intend to transform. Endeavors strive to help people get from where they are to where they want to be.
Endeavors cultivate fulfillment and well-being. They align who you are, what you do, and where you belong. These enterprises encourage a sense of passion and purpose. Endeavors inform a healthy perspective about your status and level of prosperity.
You might luck out and “wander” into a vocation, but a thoughtful approach gives you better odds of developing and delivering work that is significant and satisfying.
Affiliation strikes fear into the hearts of those invested in the status quo.
The status quo favors the exclusive club at the top. They stay there through control and domination. For those winning the status quo game, confidence, certainty, and even arrogance and sociopathy are rewarded. Curiosity, courage, and creativity are discouraged. Those that don't take a hint are punished. The status quo amplifies our differences and fears to keep us humble, hiding, and alone.
How do those that recognize the selfishness and self-indulgence of the status quo make things better? How do we break the status quo and build something better? Something that cultivates compassion shares the abundance available?
When the humanitarian, generous, and active gather, the door to possibility is cracked open. When the affiliated leverage the very impulses the status quo fears, curiosity, courage, and creativity, there's an opportunity to break the status quo and build something better....