Real Darwinism

One of the main ways we can push the world forward is by applying takeaways from certain fields or disciplines, and overlaying them with new ones.  As in, ‘if it worked here, it’s at least worth trying over there.’ Often times it’s not a literal application, but a project-specific approach that is informed by findings from another sector.

Darwinism has always been explained within a context of the evolution of species, but if we rotate that concept slightly, it has some interesting implications.

There’s value in thinking about evolution primarily as something that happens within the span of a single lifetime, as opposed to the evolution of species over the span of countless lives.

The pivot isn’t about traits losing out via competition, it’s about ways of being losing out to better ones.

The question is, what is better?

What feels more important? Alive? Engaged? Connected? Happy? Fun? Meaningful?

Real Darwinism is personal.

And my hunch is, that it’s all in those answers.

Learning to communicate

In the nature versus nurture debate, there are various silos that require unpacking. As much as folks tend to argue for one or another, most of us would agree that it’s a mix of both. We might have differing opinions as to the percentages, but rationality tells us it’s a Venn diagram.

Learning to communicate is an exception.

We all have personalities that feel inherent, but communication is something that is modeled, practiced, and experienced after birth: nurture.

We have taken queues from our family and friends. We have replicated and deviated from communication patterns that serve and don’t serve us.

One thing is for sure, communication requires intentionality.

If we want to be fair and compassionate communicators, what might we do differently?

Idea infatuation

We tend to be biased in favor of the latest “item” when it comes to our ideas. That latest flash of inspiration that blinds us to everything, much less how we’d actually make it happen.

That’s probably a bit harsh, because the digital revolution has certainly created more ways to make “it” happen yourself.

Even so, it’s incredibly important that we not only fully revel in that moment of inspiration, but that we also foster the ability to be practically critical of our idea once the high wears off.

As someone who is self-diagnosed as having SIS, Shiny Idea Syndrome, I’ve found that the time I put into growing my strategic chops pays off exponentially.

Idea infatuation is about being absolutely strategically blind.

Can we make “it” happen without learning how to know when, how much, and in what order?

There are way too many variables to consider, but if strategy means thinking 5 moves ahead, I’d be hard-pressed to minimize it.

How about you?

It’s all on the inside

When THAT happens, I’ll be OK…

When THIS stops, I’ll finally be good…

When HE stops annoying me, I’ll be able to settle down…

When THEY do that, I get so pissed off…

With all we see happening in the world, from our layered personal lives to a larger context that can feel upside down, it can be hard to calibrate ourselves to all the input. Even so, if we let other people determine our mood, it’s fair to assume that we’ll be precariously placed on the edge.

The thing is, I can see how these mindset things come back to the chicken and the egg.

To move beyond our reactivity to outside perturbances, we need to be sure our way of thinking can help mitigate that. If we’re not sure it will, we neuter the upside before we’ve ever started.

Whether good or bad, it’s all on the inside.

El Gringo

As a kid, I had the good fortune of being able to travel a lot. My dad worked in the industry and getting to see Argentina often (where my dad is from) and visit a host of other amazing places, was all part of growing up. Between travel and growing up in a bilingual immersion school gave me the privilege of being fluent in both English and Spanish from an early age. Language and travel were my gateways to heritage, culture, and the ethos our family lived by.

It also was proof to me that it’s not only OK but also cool to be one of the many permutations of people this world has to offer.

On one of our trips to Mexico, when I was 12 or so, I got into the habit of playing in the soccer game that happened every day at 2pm. I’d show up, like clockwork.

I remember planning my whole day around making sure I’d be there for the start of that game.

Most of the people playing were older than me, so when I showed up, not much was expected in regards to my output. There’d be jokes told, nothing nasty, but it was clear that I was the outsider. To their credit, I was included, but not really incorporated… until I scored a goal.

Questions about whether or not “el gringo” could play were put to rest.

In the instance I remember most vividly, some new guys had shown up and were making the same jokes (in Spanish) that I had heard over the past week, but this time I replied (in Spanish), “I understand everything you’re saying and I can play pretty well.”

“Entiendo todo lo que estan diciendo y puedo jugar bastante bien.”

I scored a goal soon thereafter and followed up, “Didn’t I tell you?”

No te dije?”

In my mind, this was just an instance of people assuming things about me based on how I looked. It was an experience that obviously didn’t tap into prejudice the way being black in America would, for instance, but it did prove to me that basing our judgments on things like skin color or hair type was insane.

It’s always been clear to me that it’s not what you are that matters, but who you are.

We all want a chance to earn it. Let’s make sure we give that to each other.


At least we’re looking in the right ocean

When we think about our place in the greater scheme of things, one can’t help but come to some type of nihilistic conclusion about our inconsequential role.

We’re each just a tiny part of the cosmos, yet we find ourselves on this particularly beautiful, habitable, complex, unique, conflicted, imperfect planet.

Even though sometimes it can all feel like a crapshoot and we wish we had more control, we should be permanently buoyed by the insane, superlative beauty of our greatest relationships, loves, communities, and experiences.

When we zoom the lens out, it’s a little easier to breathe.

We are small. It’s true.

But at least we’re looking in the right ocean.


One of my favorite Chicago coffee shops, The Coffee Studio in Andersonville, is a great place to grab high quality espresso or coffee. They make their drinks with care & serve Intelligentsia, for inquiring minds.

That said, this post has nothing to do with their coffee. It has to do with the signage on their bathroom doors.

When you walk to the back of the shop to access the bathrooms, you see that they are both labeled, “HUMANS.” I love that because it doesn’t qualify or specify, it simply states that its intended use is for all humans.

That’s the extent of the argument. No commas or logos, just a plain and simple ethos of equality. It’s why the term “human rights” is used, and it’s the basis for my entire outlook on ethnicity, language, culture, geography, citizenship, politics, and activism.

I have no desire or reflex to exclude.

What’s that all about anyway? We’re all humans.


The stories we tell ourselves tend to limit us more than facilitate our better self.

“I’m this way. I’m that way. I don’t do that well. I always do this.”

Our youthful attempts to grasp at personality end up producing a reflexive, historical, and/or familiar sense that who we are and what we will be is predetermined, or somehow outside our control. We internalize other people’s projections of us, or assume traits as if uncontested truths that we can’t step outside of.

And why do that? Doesn’t that approach rob us of our emotional & spiritual autonomy?

There’s value in questioning the stories we’ve been telling about who we are. Especially the ones that box us in, keeping us in old, less-useful patterns that cater to versions of ourselves that prevent us from growing.

The stories we tell ourselves are the overlays for how we understand our place in this crazy thing called life.

Even so, we get to choose our own story. Do our experiences and specific context affect us? Undoubtedly. But that’s the part to reconcile. We don’t always have to double down.

We can split the difference too.

Build everything but the ceiling

Much of the time, we build the ceiling before we build the walls.

That makes for an odd version of a room, doesn’t it?

All too often, we say what can and can’t happen before we have the data. We cloud the reality from the jump and we limit an ideas ability to grow.

Our tendency to curb possibility before we’ve even put ourselves in a place to turn it into reality, is a recurring pitfall many of us succumb to. The great part is, we’re just one choice away from flipping that. Just one decision away from assuming we can actually do it.

One thing we can be sure of, is that thoughts are patterns that replicate in our lives.

In that case, why not choose, YES?

Why not build everything but the ceiling?

I need my time

One of the things I’ve realized over the last few months, is that mornings are a very potent creative time for me. Something about daybreak, the sunrise,  & the smell of freshly ground coffee, all puts me in a creative state.

Between a son who wakes up early and a variety of projects, it’s even more incumbent upon me to carve out the time I need to write, take photos, edit, work on graphic design, etc.

I’m working to block out 1.5-2 hrs each morning for creative work.

No emails. No calls. No running to meetings.

Once afternoon arrives, I’m better suited to emails and handling the admin side of things. By batching my meetings on one day a week, I’m also able to reduce wasted movement that produces time I can use creatively instead.

One thing we can always ask ourselves is, “are we creating the conditions to do our best work?” The part of us that wriggles & fidgets when that question is asked is exactly why it’s worth asking.

I’ve settled into the fact that I need my time. I need my morning creative time to make art, think without parameters, and write.

So, which chunk of time do you need, and for what?

What time of day? For how long?

Perhaps most importantly, how will it make you feel if you get that time to yourself?