Dec 032012

As anyone who’s happened upon this site will likely be able to figure out, I’m a big fan of TED talks.  They’re like 20 minutes of inspiration.  And, you can find a talk on just about any subject you care to learn about.  As a result of watching them pretty regularly on YouTube, my YouTube recommendations are usually full with TED talks that I’ve not seen.  One such popped up, and I found it pretty good.  It’s a talk given by Mel Robbins.  She talks about the reasons that you are screwing yourself over, and the steps you can take to avoid doing so.

There were a couple of things that really struck me within the talk.  The first was when she mentions a “5 second rule”.  Not the one where you have to pick up dropped food within 5 seconds, either.  She explains it as you have to take “action within 5 seconds to marry it with an idea”.  Any idea/thought that you have, you have to take some action on it within 5 seconds, or it’s lost.  The action doesn’t have to be anything super special, just something like writing the idea down in a notebook, but you have to take action on it.

The second thing that really struck me was when she said: “Your problem isn’t ideas; your problem is you don’t act on them.  You kill them.”  How many ideas have you killed by not taking action on them?  I know my list would be super long.  She also talks about having to force yourself to change in order to take those actions.  Our first instinct is to remain on “autopilot” and let things go along as they are.  That, she explains, is why so many of us are unhappy with our lives.  It’s not that we lead terrible lives, but that we’ve become bored with them because we’ve let them remain on “autopilot.”

What do you take away from watching the video?

Nov 072011

If you’ve overcome your fear, and gone ahead in spite of it, you’ve accomplished the first step. Now, you’ve got to kick it while it’s down, by learning the signs of fear, how to argue with your fear, get your fear to work with you, and then to use your fear as fuel.

Learn the signs of fear.

Everyone reacts to fear a little bit differently. Some react differently to different types of fear. The same person who runs screaming at the sight of a spider might react by doing nothing when they are dealing with a fear of change. Sometimes the difference is that one fear might have a physical manifestation, while others do not. Other times, the difference is in the timeframe. The immediacy of the one fear might seem more important than a fear of death, for example. Knowing how you react to your fears, and understanding that your reaction might be different when faced with different fears, is one of the key factors in overcoming your fear, and, then turning the tables on your fear. Observe what happens when you are faced with a fear. Do you run screaming? Do you freeze in place? Do you avoid decisions?

Argue with your fear.

Just because your fear might not have a physical manifestation doesn’t mean that you can’t argue with it. Understand that fear is a manifestation of your mind. And your mind can be argued with. Fear isn’t rational. Find the rational, and logical argument against your fear. Use that argument as often as you need to debate with your fear. You might not win the first time, or the second time, but keep with it, and you’ll eventually win. And winning the argument is what will propel you into a working relationship with your fear.

Work with your fear.

Fear rarely goes away. Even the bravest people you know have fear. They’ve just learned how they react to their fear, argued with their fear, and are working with their fear. Many of the most successful people work with their fear to accomplish great things. When asked what it is that makes them so successful, they may utter a few platitudes, but, if they are honest, they will say that their fear of failure drives them to keep working, testing themselves, and overcoming until they achieve success. They work with their fear, and their fear fuel to feed their successes.

Feed off of your fear.

Successfully kicking fear while it’s down is all about making your fear work for you; using your fear as fuel to feed your success. A fear of failure, properly used as fuel, will feed you to double your efforts towards success. A fear of change, properly used as fuel, will feed you to work towards taking control of the situation so that you not only have some idea of what the change is that’s coming, but in what ways it will manifest itself.

Use your fear, manipulate your fear, and take control of your fear. Use it to fuel the successes you want in your life.

Jul 252011

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here, and I think I may have figured out why.  I’ve got these grand ideas for what I want to do here, and the ideals that I want to push here, and really, the community that I wish to join through here.  But, I keep waiting to do anything with those until I have the steps down, and know what it is that I’m doing.  Well, you all can see how well that’s been working. In order for me to continue here, there’s something that I must tell you.

I am not an expert.

There’s a very good chance that I am currently, or will be, wrong about something.  I’m beginning to realize, however, that being wrong isn’t as bad as it’s cracked up to be.  There’s a certain beauty in being wrong.  In fact, there’s something that’s very human about being wrong.  We’ve all made a mistake here or there, and we’ll make more.  To expect otherwise is to expect us all to be infallible.  Which is very much not a human trait.  And, I don’t think it’s something that a 21st century human really should aspire to in the first place.

If you’re never wrong, you’re just not stretching yourself far enough.


So, as a human, and especially as an aspiring 21st century human, I am not going to wait until I am an expert at something before I move on with it.  I’m going to get started.  Get my feet wet.  Put one foot in front of the other.  Move on down the road.  Just get going already.

Put down the Fear and Join me.

Do yourself a favor today.  Be wrong.  Do it!  Dare to be wrong about something today.  Even if it’s being wrong about the directions to an ice cream shop.  Just be wrong.  It’s ok, and the world will keep turning.  You’ll have other opportunities to be wrong.  Take a good look at the fear you have of being wrong, and see how it stands up to the worst case question.  It’s not that scary.

Be wrong, it’s beautiful.

Creative Commons License photo credit: ChazWags

Apr 142011

Too often, the only time we give people any kind of feedback at all is when we’re unhappy with them.  The drive-up gets our order wrong so we call to tell them about it.  Somebody cut you off in traffic, so you yell and make unkindly gestures at them.  When was the last time you gave someone feedback for a job well done?  When was the last time you got feedback for a job well done?

The truth is, we very rarely praise people for a job done well.  We’ve grown accustomed to expecting a good job.  We should expect a good job, but we should also recognize people when they’ve done a good job.  We should make it a point, especially, when someone has gone above our expectations.  But, we often do not.

I believe that the reason is that we’ve grown to be a disconnected society.  We used to live in a society that depended on our neighbors (or, even knew our neighbors) and would show our appreciation when our neighbors helped us out.  We also knew most of the people who were providing services to us.  It wasn’t just a pimply faced kid that delivered the dry goods from the store, it was the son of Tom, the store owner, who lived next to Sam, your cousin.  In short, we cared.  We knew the people, and we cared that they knew that we appreciated their work.

It shouldn’t be different now.  We may not know the service providers as well as we used to, but it’s no less important for them to know that we appreciate their work.  We certainly don’t have to invite them over for supper, but a little extra tip, or just a few genuine words of appreciation will work.  Someone who has provided superior service deserves it!

Often, the people who deserve such feedback are the ones least likely to accept it.  They’ll take it, then reply with some reason why it wasn’t such a big deal, or was no trouble.  But, the very fact that they honestly just did what they did because they thought it was the right thing to do makes them so very deserving of the feedback!

Take the time to thank people for doing their job well.  You’ll feel better for having done it, and the person you thanked will feel better knowing that their hard work was recognized.  If we want to be 21st century humans, it doesn’t just mean being smart, educated, multi-talented humans.  It means being better humans overall.  And, treating those around us with kindness and compassion is a part of that.

Thank you for doing what you do.  Today, you stopped by my site, read this article, and who knows what else!  I can’t speak for anything else you’ve done today, but you read this article with great style!  Thank you for being such a great reader!

Feb 282011

I happened to catch a great article by Daniel Pink on finding what it is that you want to do.  Most interesting of the article, was this little tidbit:

So – with a voice that quavers in expectation and an inflection that italicises the final word – they ask us again, “What’s your passion?”

Ladies and gentlemen, I detest that question.

When someone poses it to me, my innards tighten. My vocabulary becomes a palette of aahs and ums. My chest wells with the urge to flee.

Oh my. The answer better be amazing – not some fumbling, feeble reply. But I know the responses I’ve formed in my head aren’t especially good. Worse, they’re probably not even accurate. And I’m not alone.

So, as the economy comes back, and people begin pondering new opportunities, maybe we can take a break from this daunting and distracting question and ask a far more productive, one: what do you do?

He goes on to tell the stories of a couple of people who merely went about doing what they do and turned it into a full time income generator.

That singular question, “What is your Passion?”, is something that’s been eating at me for some time.  Not because I dislike the question, but because I just don’t feel like I have a very good answer to it.  Like Daniel, I know the “responses I’ve formed in my head aren’t especially good.”  What’s more, I think we all have a terribly distorted view of what our passions should be.  Much like many other elements of our lives, our perception of what something is is distorted by the proliferation of the dramatized and romanticized versions of those elements.  True Love means instantly falling head over heals in love with someone the moment you first see them and never having any issues with them at all.  Doing what you’re passionate about is all roses.  There aren’t any bumps and bruises, and there certainly aren’t any times when you feel less than passionate about doing it.  Or so we have all been lead to believe.

The truth, however, is slightly muddier.  The things that we regularly (and haphazardly) refer to as “passions” sometimes aren’t all roses.  And, even while performing our “passions” we aren’t going to necessarily be happy all the time.  There are going to be bumps and bruises.  And by trying to find a “passion” or “passions” that don’t have any problems might be doing us more harm than good.  Instead of trying to find your “passions”, try doing as Daniel suggested:

So, next time you’re on either the giving or receiving end of advice, skip the hot and steamy passion and go for the calm and deeper love. Ask questions like:

What did you do last Saturday afternoon – for fun, for yourself?

What books do you read or blogs do you visit, not for work, but just because you’re interested in them?

What are you great at? What comes easily to you?

What would you do – or are you already doing – for free?

The answer to those questions is what you really are looking for.  Call it a passion if you like, but those things that you do in your free time, for no pay, are the things that truly interest you.  Define them, then pursue them.  And then, find a way to make your living from them.  That’s living with passion.  Most of all, stop trying to find the answer to “what’s your passion?” and start doing what you do.

Jan 032011

One of the biggest obstacles to shrugging off the yoke of a “normal” life is getting past the fear of what might happen.  Our fear holds us in check and keeps us from experiencing life the way it is meant to be experienced.  For centuries, society has taught us that specialization in a field is the only way to succeed.  We’ve been conditioned to expect failure if we step away from that.  For many, myself included, overcoming that fear is the first step towards living the life of a 21st Century Human.  But, how do we overcome our fear?

Fear is a funny thing.  A person can experience fear of something as simple as speaking in front of a group, but feel completely at ease jumping out of an airplane with nothing but a parachute strapped on.  Fear can manifest itself in both rational and irrational ways.  Fear of speaking, for example, can be thought of an irrational fear.  After all, there’s little to no chance that the group will do anything worse than stand up and walk out of the room.

Fear, at it’s most basic, is an emotion.  Humans are an emotional being, and we use our emotions to guide us.  But, we also are built such that we can control our emotions.  We can override them.  Overcoming a fear is nothing more than controlling and overriding an emotion.  That’s at it’s most basic.

For centuries, humans have used tools to overcome difficulties.  Overcoming emotions (overcoming fear) isn’t all that much different.  If you find the right tool, you can face, and, ultimately, control and override that fear.

AraignéeRationalization can be that tool.  Give your fear a rational consequence.  Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen if I do what I fear.  Be careful, though, to not let your fear influence your rationalization of it.  For example, a possible consequence of overriding a fear of spiders is that the spider climbs up your arm and
bites you, poisoning you and resulting in your death.  But, looking at it rationally, there are very few spiders whose bite can kill you quickly enough that you can’t receive help that will save you.  So, a truly rational way to look at it would be to say that the worst that could happen is that the spider would bite you and you’d have to receive treatment for the bite and suffer a recovery period.

The same is true for most fears. Ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen if I do this? If the answer isn’t unbearable, then, your fear is unfounded.

What is your fear keeping you from doing?  Don’t let your fear override your need for happiness.  Control your fear, and overcome it.

Creative Commons License photo credit: JR Guillaumin