Unwavering UX + reduce the sauce by Evan La Ruffa

The IPaintMyMind website has been down as we motor toward a new version of the site, and it’s been funny to look at the conversion rate of the email sign up that still lingers at the top of the page.

Despite no content loading on the rest of the page, we’ve been getting more newsletter sign ups than ever before.

Why?

Because the only thing you can do on the page is enter your email address.

It’s not fancy, it’s not even good. It’s functional, and the UX, or user experience, is unwavering. It dictates where you go and what you do. Clearly.

While I’d rather our brand new site be up now, I found this unintended UX test yielding a lot of perspective…

We have to be clear, concise, and direct. There are times for details and commas, but if we want our ideas to stick, we probably need to reduce the sauce a little bit.

Leading means asking questions by Evan La Ruffa

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the safety of not speaking up. It’s easier to not step up, to not give more, to not mention the visible folly.

It’s easier to not put our necks on the line by suggesting a new path forward or a better strategy.

While doing so avoids some risk, it also relegates us to the tier below the leaders. And maybe that’s a good place for us. But leading means asking questions… important questions. It also means we actually have to be open to the answers and doing something with them.

Questions + Dialogue = New Answers = New Action = New Responsibility

Sometimes we don’t lead, not because we haven’t thought about those important questions, but because we shy away from real responsibility.

Questions mean leading, and leading means responsibility… responsibility for our perspective, vibe, skills, and contribution.

What questions have you thought of but not yet asked? Are you ready for the responsibility?

There's a lot of battle in you by Evan La Ruffa

You ever interact with people and almost instantly realize that their gripe has nothing to do with you?

You know, those instances where a regular comment is met by snipe. An innocent question rejected. A fierce reaction to something tame.

The moments when others displace the current situation with an overlay of their own tension & making should provide a signpost to those of us who would rather not deflect, deject, or verbally lash out — especially when it doesn’t matter.

Is this really the issue? Did you need to make things awkward? How did you make the other person feel? Do you wish you would have said that in another way? Is there something bothering you? Could you have been kinder? Do you use that tone too often?

Some interactions reveal that there’s a lot of battle in you.

What if there wasn’t? And what is it about?

Actionable is the highest compliment by Evan La Ruffa

We all have dense lives. Work, family, fitness, etc.

It’s called the hamster wheel for a reason, which is why taking time to think about how we’re living and working is a position of privilege.

Even so, reading a book and doing the exercises outlined in the book are two different things. And if I’m going to take the time out to think about a new way of doing things, by golly, there better be next steps I can take to harness that new perspective.

This is why “actionable” is the highest compliment I can give. Frameworks are great, but action plans are real.

I’d like to thank the people at Run Like Clockwork, who recently awarded me a scholarship to attend their 3-day workshop in Tampa, FL. It was an eye-opening few days and now I’m back home making exciting changes to streamline IPaintMyMind’s operations to increase impact in 2019 and beyond.

I’m so glad they gave me a map (framework)… and a compass (action plan).

Onward.

Showing up... as ourselves. by Evan La Ruffa

The world is a dynamic place. A series of Venn diagrams that create the way we are. Imprints, emotions, places, times, politics, people, and how it all comes together.

Some people are good at construction, some people are good at writing, some people are good at speaking, some people are good at baking.

And some of us have existed at the nexus of a serendipitous space in which being ourselves isn’t a chore, a choice, or a problem.

Having the emotional clean slate to be able to show up in any space exactly as we are, is something that sets us apart.

Authenticity isn’t typically seen as a skill one learns the way we learn how to manage software or build a project, but it is indeed a skill one develops.

If we have that skill, we MUST use it. Because no matter what we’re doing, it’s who we are… and it’s the biggest gift we can give anyone.

Once we fold that into our presence on a regular basis, we become nearly unstoppable.

People will want to come with us. We just need to be ourselves.

Legacy by Evan La Ruffa

Legacy can be viewed in a variety of ways, but it’s often reduced to straight cash.

Conversations around how we define legacy have come up a lot for me lately, and I keep coming back to one thing….

I believe legacy is about how you made people feel.

Not how much money you left them, or how the things you bought proved your worth, but that quite simply, you made people feel OK to be themselves, that they were accepted, and that you showed them kindness, generosity, empathy or understanding.

Legacy is vibrational, not financial, and it’s not just our families that get left with our energy.

Every interaction is our legacy.

Just enough or thinking ahead? by Evan La Ruffa

It’s easy for me to feel when I’m doing just enough or thinking ahead.

Each level of effort and engagement has its own vibration, and it’s completely oppositional to the other. There are times when just enough will do, but most of the time, it’s a sure-fire way to exclude ourselves from the running.

Finding out what life-buckets never induce the just enough response is what it’s all about.

Then again, knowing the difference between just enough and thinking ahead can’t be taught. What’s more, being fair to ourselves and others about what we can, and will give, is about an inner dialogue that informs how we show up.

If we’re asked to think ahead and we show that we’re preoccupied with just enough, they’re most likely going to move on.

I see the child in you by Evan La Ruffa

An incredible exercise when facing an impasse, is thinking of your counterpart as a child. It makes us inherently more compassionate and gets us to a softer, gentler place.

If we give others the chance to see the child in us more often, then that means we’d receive softer, gentler communication.

What might we do with that good will?

Email is a trap by Evan La Ruffa

In an instant-culture, the transition from idea to delivery is immediate. It's both convenient and incessant. It connects us but it also traps us. The wild part is, since we can get in touch immediately, everything gets raised to first priority.

The reality is, everything is NOT first priority.

Just because we can be super responsive doesn't mean we should be. To be super responsive, we have to be on alert. We have to be pending. We have to be waiting to pounce and reply.

But if we think about that state of being, it's not strategic at all. It reflexively reacts when we are dinged and pinged by email, text, messengers, Facebook, Instagram, and the rest of it.

If I was answering low-priority emails right now instead of writing, a whole variety of low-hanging fruit would be harvested to the detriment of a bigger goal.

Let's turn our alerts off and check email after lunch.

We've got real work to do.

Doing hard shit by Evan La Ruffa

I like comfort. I like good food, drink, and relaxation. Most of the time I feel like I'd have no problem doing nothing.

But there's no substitute for purpose. Doing hard shit is the persistent, dogged, explorer in all of us. And I'm not sure there's any substitute for flexing that muscle either.

One of my self-critiques is that I don't have the discipline to stick to tough goals. One brief scan of who I am and what I do, and it becomes clear that's not entirely true. But I do think there is value in developing perseverance.

At the end of the day, will we let ourselves stop short when it gets really hard or will we conquer the midgets in our mind that tell us stopping is OK?

We can't overuse practicality to buffer doing the hard shit that gives us purpose, engages a better version of ourselves and ultimately creates ripple effects of can-do.

We shouldn't avoid doing hard shit because it gets uncomfortable sometimes.

Doing hard shit is a privilege.

Hard shit proves WE can do it.

Strings & focus by Evan La Ruffa

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 by Evan La Ruffa

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 by Evan La Ruffa

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 by Evan La Ruffa

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 by Evan La Ruffa

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... by Evan La Ruffa

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 by Evan La Ruffa

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 by Evan La Ruffa

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 by Evan La Ruffa

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 by Evan La Ruffa

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.