Insight and Inspiration for Flying Higher in Endeavors that Make a Difference
Every day each of us is presented with a choice. To do the same things the same old way, or to try new things and new approaches.
When things are going well, or at least well enough, the natural thing is to just show up today like we did yesterday. But when things are broken, expecting what worked yesterday to work today is probably unhelpful or even foolish.
It's natural to slip into reactive attitudes and behavior when things go sideways. Shutting down, tuning out, and sitting still, are encoded default human responses to crisis. The hope is that things will sort themselves out, or someone will fix things for us.
While these knee-jerk responses are common, they don't promote anyone's health or wellbeing. What helps us flourish through troubles is the opposite of what our instincts encourage.
Crisis reminds us of what it really means to be human and happy is to shun our selfish impulses and lean instead into our social and creative nature.
Life in the ancient world was full of adversity. If you lived to adulthood, you likely endured war, famine, plague, or some combination of the three.
In antiquity, there was a flowering of philosophical approaches to the art of living well and even flourishing while navigating such difficulties.
One of the most enduring of those traditions is Stoicism. Within this tradition is pragmatic wisdom and a practical, straightforward approach to stave off anxiety, cultivate resilience, and find meaning in any challenge you face.
The Three Disciplines
Stoicism, more than any other approach, is a lived philosophical practice. Epictetus, an important Stoic teacher, established three core practices, or disciplines.
When things go topsy turvy, upside down, or sideways, the usual reaction is to dig in. We insist that things go back to the way they were, or simply sit in stunned silence, and wait for someone to do something about it.
These reactions are dangerous. They prevent us from seeing the many opportunities within any unfortunate or even dire situation.
A response that helps us start to take more meaningful and helpful action is to articulate what's really going on. Take a pause, put the moment in context, and decatastrophize the experience. Express the situation plainly and objectively.
Describe what's going on by stating only the facts without any value judgments . No strong emotive language allowed. This helps move us from the anxiety of "what if?" thinking to the agency inherent in "what's next?" thinking.
Less catastrophic and more constructive language helps everyone cope and opens the door for collaboration and a creative approach to solving whatever...
Everything is just fine most of the time, and so are we. That's why so few challenge the status quo. Human beings like to know what's expected and where they stand.
Things get topsy turvy, turned upside down, or go sideways, and the status quo is no longer the status quo. As creatures who find comfort in "another one of those," this can create uncertainty and anxiety.
Here's a five-step process that can help you navigate challenging times.
Disclaimer - This isn't about politics. It's about coming together to make things better.
Too many of us deny or have lost touch with our creative instinct and drive. This is sad, and this is wrong. It's time to reclaim and reconnect with our creative capacity to build a brighter future for everyone.
Step into Possibility
Creativity is a fundamental human impulse. Everyone is a creative.
Creativity is an effort to make change happen. Creatives see what is and what can be.
Creativity curbs false certainty and judgment and fosters curiosity and consideration.
Creativity is how we solve interesting problems and overcome challenges.
Creativity, at its best, is a collaborative enterprise done with and for others.
Creative enterprise unites us and builds trust.
Creative projects done with intention and integrity enhance the prospects for all.
Creative work reflects who we are and who we seek to be.
Creative activity generates purpose...
I spent much of my life trying to achieve "work-life balance," which means I spent most of my life deeply frustrated.
For the past thirty-five years, I've been engaged in multiple roles every day, including husband, father, teacher, musician, writer, and coach. I used to believe each role was a bucket and that all the buckets had to be filled equally.
Even if I grouped all those roles into two categories, personal life and professional life, balance was never achieved.
Things really turned around for me when I decided to show up everywhere simply as myself. What I mean is, I started living my values in every situation. This reflects my virtue. Whatever I find myself doing and whomever I am doing it with, I represent both who I am and who I wish to become.
Finding the points of intersection and alignment in my roles and duties along with the facets...
Crisis hijacks the healthier impulses we need to leverage when things go sideways.
"What am I to do when [INSERT CURRENT CRISIS HERE]?!"
Let's start by contextualizing the situation at hand. Yes, the current crisis is new and now, but novelty and proximity don't have to be exaggerated to amplify our anxiety.
Additionally, and this may not be the best time to state the obvious, death will happen for all of us. The time and manner of our death matter less than spending the time we've been granted to live it well.
Here are additional thoughts on weathering the crisis of this moment.
What helps us purposely work through any crisis are basic human instincts like consideration, compassion, and care. These can be replaced by contempt, cruelty, and carelessness during times of trouble.
Creativity is the antidote to caving into an unhealthy response to a crisis.
Creativity is collaborative. It builds trust, encourages...
Judgment is a belief or a collection of beliefs clung to in order to maintain the status quo.
We want to know where we stand and what's expected of us, for sure. But what we really want to know is where we belong and how we stay there.
But is the status quo really serving us so well that there's no room for improvement?
What happens if we suspend our certainty and judgment? After all, most of what we believe isn't empirically true. It's anecdotal.
What if, instead of certainty and judgment, we practiced a little more curiosity and consideration toward others and ourselves?
Wouldn't that change things?
"Things themselves don't hurt or hinder us. Nor do other people. How we view these things is another matter. It is our attitudes and reactions that give us trouble." - Epictetus
Let's keep stepping into possibility together!
Scott - Difference Maker at Creative on Purpose
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We live in a world full of information and distraction. In this world, overwhelm can be a real and debilitating response. Confronted with an abundance of stimuli and choices, we may well choose to do nothing.
And sometimes, doing nothing can be an entirely appropriate response.
Overwhelm is a fraught subject, for sure!
At the same time…
Overwhelm is a result of an abundance of opportunity. It can be reframed as an invitation to make a decision and own a choice.
Just typing that, I feel tension. How about you?
If you aspire to make a difference, that’s the gig.
If you're to level up as a difference maker, you'll have to face the overwhelm and become a decision maker.
And, here's your next chance to exercise your decision making muscle and step into possibility as a change agent.
The thing about choices is they want to be chosen. Making the best decision you can in this moment places us in a new moment with new choices and another decision to make.
“To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” - Lao Tzu
This is the hardest lesson I’ve ever learned. In fact, I relearn it daily. I’m sharing it with you and imploring you to pay attention.
Less is more.
You are born into a world where more isn’t enough. This impulse is fueling the woes and suffering you wrestle with today.
As you unpack your endeavor and identify who it’s for and what it’s for, think small. Keep it simple.
You aren’t going to transform the world overnight. Your idea won’t become an immediate change agent. Your actions won’t instantly initiate a movement.
The cosmos doesn’t owe you a thing. But it does reward thoughtful, ethical, and determined effort.
Be deliberate. You can lean in and leap when what’s working and what isn’t is more clear. Until then, baby steps.
Do only what is necessary and required. Efficiency is...
"A call for courage to pursue the endeavor that makes a difference: great work indeed!" - Michael Bungay-Stanier, The Coaching Habit
A process for finding fulfillment through worthwhile endeavors done with and for people you care about.
I'd love to share this handbook and two additional resources with you. Where should I send them?