Weekly Insights and Inspiration for Flying Higher in Endeavors that Make a Difference
What does it take to make a difference?
It helps if you’ve considered the Ancient Greek aphorism, “Know thyself."
You also need to see things as they are. What’s within your control? What’s not?
Most things are not within your control, but some are within your influence. There are always possibilities to choose from.
And to make a difference you must choose and then step into possibility.
If you do that repeatedly with and for others with intention and integrity, you can help make things better.
Are you ready to make a difference? Let's go!
And let's keep flying higher together.
"What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him." - Viktor Frankl
Work worth doing is fraught. There will be delays, obstacles, misfortune, and failure.
No amount of learning, preparation, or practice can prepare you for how to handle hardship. Only experience teaches the virtues of acceptance, patience, humility, and resilience. All of these are required to remain resolved and committed to work worthy of your time, talent, and effort.
If the work you seek to do is important. If it's going to make things better. If it's going to enhance the lives of others while you're cultivating excellence through it. It will be hard and, the effort will be worth it whether or not you succeed.
That's the gig.
Striving doesn't require suffering. But it rewards the will to embrace challenges. Accept that, and you can lean into all of this with passion, purpose, and a determined smile.
Let's keep flying...
When someone is celebrating an achievement or sharing a moment of joy, the signals sent are clear and easy to read.
When someone is anxious, angry, fearful, or suffering, the signals they send can be conflated, confusing, and conflicted.
When confronted or engaging with someone who's in anguish, it's easy to get sucked into reacting to those signals or rejecting them. A more compassionate approach is to not lose sight of the soul on the other side. A hurting human is sending those signals.
The suffering signal sender is an imperfect soul striving and struggling. Someone just like you.
These moments don't call for tough love. Theses are moments for practicing real love.
“Kindness is invincible, but only when it’s sincere, with no hypocrisy or faking. What can even the most vicious person do if you keep treating him with kindness and gently set him straight - if you get the chance correcting him cheerfully at the exact moment that he’s trying to do...
"Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what’s left and live it properly." - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 7.56
When your time on earth is done, who will remember you? How will you be remembered? What will you be remembered for?
Too often we treat legacy like a social media profile, something that can be contrived and crafted. If you have means, you might believe legacy is something you can save up or set aside funds for, a commodity that can be bought through a trust or donation.
But in the end, your legacy is based solely on who you are, how you are, and what you do right now.
Live now. Do all you can now. Be the best you that you can be now. Share all you that you can now.
That's the best way to confront mortality, "live" beyond the grave and leave a legacy worth remembering.
These thoughts on legacy are deeply influenced by a conversation I had with my friend Chris Gill, Emeritus Professor of Ancient Thought at Exeter...
Yes, you read that title correctly. I assert that "stoicism is stupid."
To be clear, what I mean is, common English usage, lower case "s" stoicism is a pretty poor strategy for cultivating happiness while building a life worth living.
Meaningful living and work, without question, involves challenges, misfortunes, and invitations for shame and suffering. And "keeping a stiff upper lip" and grimly enduring such hardships will bring no feelings of peace, prosperity, or wellbeing.
On the other hand, capital "S" Stoicism, the ancient philosophy of life, has much wisdom and value to impart to those who strive to endeavor better. First and foremost, Stoicism asserts that excellence of character is all that is required to "live the good life."
Although virtue is sufficient, Stoicism also encourages us to strive to make both the world and ourselves "better" and also provides principles and practices for doing just that.
The video above is from a Facebook Live broadcast from the...
Many ancient philosophical and religious traditions speak to the importance of virtue. The ancient Cynics said it was all that was required to live "the good life." The Stoics said it was "sufficient." As a kid, I learned the Catechism of the Catholic Church which instructed that a firm disposition to do "the good" by practicing the seven virtues was required to get to heaven.
My experience is that the Stoics got it right. Virtue is its own reward and sufficient for a life lived well. Your mileage may vary.
Whatever your relationship with virtue, virtue matters. It matters a lot. Pursuing excellence as a human being means cultivating the content of your character for its own sake.
Of course, nurturing virtue also means extending compassion and justice to others. In fact, you enhance yourself most when you elevate the lives of others.
But is there a downside to virtue? The current display of "virtue signaling" by politicians, social...
“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 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.
Is “what happens next” due to fate or the exercise of your free will?
It's comforting to believe you control what happens next. But do you? What if what happens next has already been decided? What if everything that happens is fated?
"My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity." - Friedrich Nietzsche
Why not love fate? A life that is fated does not imply that it just happens to you. Life also happens through you.
In a fated cosmos, you may be a tiny cog in the machinery of the universe, but you still have a vital role to play.
Past events alone don't determine your future. You can, and should, be an active participant in your life now. How your life proceeds may be fated, but it also reflects your character. Why not do your best and let what unfolds be what it will be?
Acceptance of what happens next is the path to well-being in your endeavor. This doesn’t make you...
“All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment, action for the common good in the present moment, and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way.” — Marcus Aurelius
I had a fascinating discussion about Stoicism and creativity recently with my friend Chris Gill, Professor Emeritus of Ancient Thought at Exeter University. Chris is a deep thinker, a humble soul, and quiet dispenser of profound wisdom.
During our chat, we discussed acceptance.
As human beings and creative souls, we so often and easily attach ourselves to things beyond our control. Recognition, compensation, the opinions of others. These may appear important. They aren’t. The measure of our worth and that of our craft is reflected in how we approach them and toward what purpose we intend to serve.
We don’t control how we or our work are received. We must accept what comes. Resisting this is a path to suffering.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
Do you seek excellence in the work you do or an endeavor you engage in? How do you "level up" in an enterprise worthy of your time and effort?
It's one of the most profound lessons I learned in Seth Godin's altMBA.
Work we do for others is done better when it's done with others!
I believe in Epictetus' maxim, "Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily." But that "work" is pretty useless if it doesn't also elevate and enhance the lives of others. Toward that end, the advice of Seneca comes in handy. "Associate with those who will make a better person of you."
Find your people. Peers to train with, encourage, and support. Mentors, guides, heroes, and teachers to learn from. In turn, share, teach and train those you serve.
Navel gazing, self-help, and personal development that doesn't serve a greater good are pretty pointless (and a bit...