Insight and Inspiration for Flying Higher in Endeavors that Make a Difference
Last time, I discussed the virtues of "going." Today, I share the value of pausing.
There's no authentication for the source, but this is a favorite quote of mine.
"Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is your power to choose your response. And, in your response lies your growth and your freedom." - Viktor Frankl
To be clear, there are circumstances when stimulus leads directly to response without a chance of pausing. If I step on a garter snake in the garden there will be instant screaming, leaping, and hyperventilating. In situations like this, stimulus goes straight to the amygdala and initiates the fight or flight response immediately.
But even in cases that at first bypass the neocortex (where conscious thought resides), at some point you can stop, reflect, and frame your experience. And in any situation where there's a possibility of consideration, such as a conversation or email exchange, you have the power to insert a...
“As the gardener, by severe pruning, forces the sap of the tree into one or two vigorous limbs, so should you stop off your miscellaneous activity and concentrate your force on one or a few points.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
It's been years since we sold the farm where my wife and I raised our boys. We also raised chickens, dogs, cats, gardens, and more than a few eyebrows there. But the centerpiece was the small apple orchard.
Our farm was blessed with an abundance of fruit trees and berry bushes. The real treasure was a collection of dwarf apple trees that were grafts of stock that came from Thomas Jefferson's orchards at Monticello. These heirloom apple varieties had captivating names like "Arkansas Black," "Cox's Orange Pippin," "Duchess of Oldenburg," "Roxbury Russet," "Spitzenburg," "Stayman Winesap," and "Liberty."
I can't possibly describe how delicious these apples tasted. Imagine how an organic apple bought at the supermarket tastes...
When is it time to get going with your endeavor?
Here's a hint, it's almost always time to go.
"Learning that does not lead to action is useless." - Epictetus
Sure, you could read another book, take another course, spend a little more time practicing and polishing. There may even be virtue and value in those activities.
But the most valuable lessons are learned through the experience of doing the thing you wish to do. It might not be pretty and it might not work but whatever the result, you'll learn far more than you would than by reading about the thing or listening to someone talk about it.
And you'll already be in motion. You can reflect, iterate, and pivot as you go. You'll be cultivating your curiosity, courage, and creativity. You'll nurture resolve and resiliency. You'll be developing will, forging meaning, and building identity.
"Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming." - Dory, Finding Nemo
A fish that...
What's the genre of your life story?
Is it a deadly disaster or an action adventure? A melodrama or a thriller? A horror show or a survival tale? A tragedy or an epic? A black comedy or an improv? A surreal show or superhero story? Outlaw or empire western? Crime drama or whodunnit? Screwball romance or suspense? Farce or commentary? Space opera or speculative sci-fi? Parody or reality? Fairytale or hero's journey? Small town life or road trip? B Movie or cult classic?
The thing about deciding the genre of your life's story is that it's just like picking what to watch on Netflix. You get to choose.
When it's over, the movie of your life will be categorized, sorted, and filed by its genre. Where do you want your life's story to be cataloged? Why not start writing that movie? Why not start filming it right now?
Keep Flying Higher!
I’m a husband, father, teacher, and musician from Floyd, VA. I help...
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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 attachments.
“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. They are...
“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...