Strings & focus

Strings – when we relate to, truly hear, or have something resonate in a way that inspires us to focus.

Focus – when we let all the irrelevant, untimely, misguided or disempowering squirrels in our mind run off without the slightest of chases.

Strings and focus feed off one another, and having people in our lives that are attuned to what might resonate makes all the difference.

If you’re reading this newsletter regularly, you’re someone that cares, works hard, lives for others, thinks strategically, is compassionate, and wants to grow. And you know people who are similar.

You also have antennas. We all do.

And to be our fullest selves we rely on relationships in which antennas are functional. You know, the kind where you communicate with someone in multiple ways – through conversations, interactions, and a 6th sense that relies on understanding how that person views their own experience.

Whether a helpful word or a bit of perspective, we have to remember that what we offer shouldn’t be about us. Imposed views rarely do well, better to harness what’s already there & not one-size-fits-all this thing.

But antennas need practice and relationships worth having put in that work.

We know we’re doing OK when we feel the strings and focus.

Being judgy

Our judgments are the dark side of the moon. Not uncharted territory as much as a proportional reflection.

Just look at the way people bring up judgments of others. The facial expressions, the energy, the biting attack. The lack of compassion, the intensity.

One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I critique others when I feel raw, insecure, unsure, uncertain, defensive, or angry. Lately, I’ve been trying to apply a built-in question every time I am being judgy…

‘Interesting. You don’t usually critique people. It’s not about them. Their differentness is valuable, they are equal to you. This judgment is about your own insecurity. Be kind to yourself and the person you’re judging. What’s bothering you?’

Or some version of that…

It’s a way to help break down reactionary otherness and keep our emotional vulnerability in dialogue with how we show up in the world.

We all could stand to be less judgy. Myself included.

Let’s take aim

In the new economy, self-preservation is like chum in the water. Those that merely work to beat people away from their little perch will find themselves among the remnants cast aside from old systems.

Sounds kinda wild, right?

Well, it only is if we’re thinking about keeping our spot versus creating insane value in it.

No boss likes a problem being put back on her desk, and no position on any team preserves itself only because it currently exists.

When thinking about what we each bring to the table, essence and skills are different.

In our essence, we show up with the vibe, approach, and can-do attitude that puts the best aspects of each one of us on display, making our unique value all the more apparent.

In self-preservation, the view is defensive, unoriginal, pejorative, and reptilian. We shrink up, stop short, and do work other people are better at.

In a world where value isn’t attached to time and creativity lives beyond the canvas, the essential question that tees up good ideas, strong strategy, and collaborative creation seems to be…

What types of energy & contribution are essential to who I am, and put me in the best position to knock someone’s socks off?

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the good shit.

Let’s take aim.

Rehearsing the drama

It’s a problem a lot of us have. It leads to anxiety, and it’s hard to curtail once we’re on a roll.

One thing is amiss and then all of a sudden we’re 10 steps down the rabbit hole fabricating disastrous situations, worst-case scenarios, and tales of it all going to hell.

What’s more, sometimes the most innocuous thing can set us off in the wrong direction.

For those of us who feel deeply, there is plenty of potential for our intuition to work in the wrong direction, where an overactive imagination becomes the pretext for throwing in the towel.

Rehearsing the drama takes us farther away from solutions.

Let’s not go there.

P.s. A mentor of mine acquainted me with a breathing technique that helps reset when shifting into new spaces, roles, situations, and interactions. 4-count of deep breathing in, 7-count of holding that in-breath, and 8-count of exhaling. 4, 7, 8. It’s working for me, you might give it a try.

Needing less

For someone who likes the finer things as much as I do, I see value in needing less. Overhead is a son of a gun, and I’m cognizant of the fact that what we expect to “have” can inflate over the years.

Especially considering the reality that as we get older, we hope to progress, earn more, do more, have more free time, etc etc etc.

Where we are now is a springboard for a better tomorrow. The question seems to be, “what do we have to do or not do, to sustain the types of lives we want for ourselves and our families?” 

Budgets work in two directions and getting caught up in the maelstrom of things is a temptation most of us relate to. Needing less has to do with being intentional about how we spend our money, and perhaps having that awareness allows us to be more conscious about why we buy in and to what end.

What’s more, forgoing a few things to ensure we have more time is a trade most of us would be willing to make.

The cutting edge is sharp, unless…

The thing about doing something new is that there’s inherently more risk. There’s no data as to whether or not it will work, not to mention the fact that this new path also needs to be messaged decently to catch on.

The cutting edge is sharp because that’s where we make new things, whether art, businesses, products, communities, or projects.

The thing is, it’s less and less sharp the more we add skills that increase our ability to be creative in building new solutions. Specificity is important, but so is uncharted territory.

As long as we add more paintbrushes to our toolkit, the cutting edge is a great place to be.

(It’s also where the most upside tends to reside.)

Authenticity and positioning

Authenticity and positioning don’t always have to run counter to each other. We can be our real selves while also making sure we’re not valuing responsiveness more than making, building, or organizing.

As someone who is very expressive, I tend to give too much away. I tend to respond too quickly, which in business can indicate to whomever you’re relating to that their time is more valuable than yours.

Since time is an increasingly valuable quantity in my mind, I’ve been thinking a lot about when I do what I do (as per a recent post), thus prioritizing my own production and workflow while staying responsive – just not immediately, responsive.

If we’re positioning, it’s easy to lose our authenticity. Ego games and the rest. But we don’t have to. We can be fair to ourselves by making sure OUR WORK gets done, while simultaneously offering the level of service, care, personality, & mission that levels up everything we do.

Prioritizing the making, building, and organizing ensures that we contribute our best.

If we do, that’s all the leverage we’ll ever need.

Social testing

We usually think of our lives from one semi-cohesive vantage point. The plot, characters, and themes are the same, and we use those experiences to auto-extrapolate a way of being in the world.

We react to a certain type of comment or input in pretty similar ways.

In that sense, what we offer is often the same. The energy, presence, or contribution we have carries a certain vibration and has its own tenor.

If we’re putting the same thing in, we’re probably getting the same thing out.

So lets test. Let’s try approaching a certain type of situation in a different way, look at the data, and compare it to what we normally experience, social testing in that we switch up the equation.

Both in our overall offering and the possibilities that open up as a result.

P.s. I’m working on a rhetorical pivot that is all about changing one element of the equation and seeing what the data tells me. I’ll keep ya posted.

Myatribe

myatribe – when our contribution to someone else’s comment reflexively shifts back to a theme, topic, or opinion that we currently ascribe to. Real listening isn’t happening, and the other person in the dialogue is rendered unimportant, insofar that they have merely paved the way for us to come back to our thesis of choice.

We’ve all done it, some less opaquely than others, and it’s the product of a species of restlessness; an energy which is single-minded and often well-intended but functionally precludes real connection. If the subject at hand is something directly mentioned by our conversation partner, then by all means, we should add, brainstorm, and contribute.

But if we can hear our inner monologue interrupt real listening when the subject is unrelated, it’s time we cultivate the skill to sit back, listen, and forgo our latest rant.

It seems appropriate, if only on balance, but it might also help us prove that our presence isn’t a one-way street.

Whether we’re too far inside our own heads or overly transactional, either approach seems destined for black holes.

Here’s to squashing our next myatribe.

And here’s to taking my own advice.

No substitute for intentionality

I recently started working with a coach to do some distilling and processing in an effort to think about how I might be limiting myself, or how I might be operating from places that serve me and others less, or impede growth.

I’ve been using the word “uplevel” as the most concise way of describing how I’m thinking about the process.

I’ve been fueling my body better and being intentional about health and fitness, and whether it’s physical wellness or mental and emotional wellness, I realize that to show up, serve, produce, and provide the way I want to, that I can’t just wing it.

I can’t just assume that the how is going to sort itself out in any catalytic way if I’m not being intentional about it.

As I discussed with Lindsey last night over the dirtiest of martinis, there’s just no substitute for intentionality.

P.s. I’d love to hear what you’re trying to be more intentional about. And whether you reply to this email or share it with someone else, an example of intentionality seems like a worthwhile offering.