Sometimes It’s A Wash

Sometimes you work real hard. You put in lots of effort. You research, experiment, trade. You try to come out ahead, to profit, to gain something.

But… it’s a wash. You know what? That’s okay. Maybe it’s better to come out on even ground, if you’re not coming out behind. Not succeeding is still better than failing. Making a real effort and ending up in the same spot is still better than falling behind. And even falling behind can be okay if it gives you a chance to try something again.

When you try to come up with an answer, to complete a task, to put yourself ahead, or make the right choice, and you end up with a wash… just pick the thing you prefer. If you can’t find better, then find preferable. If stressing over the answer isn’t productive, then just pick one. Flip a coin. Don’t stress. Be happy when you can just call something a wash, and move forward.

I think some people see a wash, or no gains as failure, but it’s not. When you actually fail you know the difference.

“It is very easy to say that the important thing is to try your best, but if you are in real trouble the most important thing is not trying your best, but getting to safety.” – Lemony Snicket

Act As If

The Act As If philosophy is surprisingly effective. It does not always require a particular emotion or attitude to find the way to do something, or begin to do something. Often it is enough to simply “act as if.”

When I was a kid, I remember being threatened if I was bored. I don’t mean this literally, as if my parents threatened my wellbeing if I couldn’t find a way to entertain myself, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve been very possessive about my space and time. My time is my time, and I do what I want with it. If i share it, so be it, but if I want it for me, well that’s just how it is. Whenever I would tell my mom I was bored, she would tell me, “well if you’re bored, why don’t you do some chores, or clean up, or straighten your room, or go play with that one kid (that I didn’t really like). So I got good at making up things to do.

I also developed a habit of never letting myself “be bored.” I had a repertoire of things I could throw out when my theoretical boredom was inquired upon. I had elaborate scripts in my head for my action figures to play out. I had games I wanted to play outside, stories I wanted to write, projects I was working on, and plenty of fuel to throw in the engine.

Act As If says that, even when you don’t feel a certain way, you can still act. Even if you don’t feel ambitious, you can still do. I mean, how many people really want to go to work every day? How many customer service reps really feel sorry about the problem the customer is having? But you act as if.

Science has shown that the act of smiling, even fake smiling, actually influences emotional state. You can make yourself feel better by pretending you feel better. When I was a kid and I couldn’t sleep, I would sometimes pretend I was asleep. By doing the things I figured I did when I was asleep, I pretty effectively put myself to sleep.

Act As If is directly related to the thing people talk about when they say “just start.” If you don’t know what to write, how to start a paper, how to begin a relationship… just start. It’s not always momentum that’s the hard part, it’s gaining some movement. We are pretty creative creatures, and being able to just do something is often enough to inspire continuation.

This isn’t faking. Well, it is faking. It’s faking yourself though. It’s not posing. It’s saying that sometimes, even if we don’t want to or don’t feel ready, we must begin something. Perfection doesn’t happen, so there’s no use waiting around for the perfect moment, the perfect time. Eventually we must begin to act the way we know we should act, even if we aren’t convinced we’re ready yet.

Act as if you have already achieved your goal and it is yours. – Dr. Robert Anthony

Reboot Your Life

Seven lessons from Maria Ross about rebooting, reorienting, and forming some great habits.

1: Focus
2: Be Authentic
3: Count On Your Tribe
4: Practice Patience
5: Learn to Say No
6: Face the Fear
7: Find the Humor

Saying no, facing fear, and finding humor in things are strong points for me. I don’t struggle much with those, and I’m even naturally prone toward them to some degree.

Focusing and counting on my tribe are hard for me. I love to multitask (or try to). I love to have several things going on at once, to focus on lots of different things quickly, and to be distracted. I also have learned over the years to build a community of genuine, great people around me. This should not be confused with lots of friends; community is not the same as friendship or teammates. A community is a group of people who commit to each other, regardless of whether they like each other all the time. This is a hard concept for anyone to believe in, but it is truly a blessing when you can do it.

What about you? Which of these is a real tough one? Which come naturally?

source: dumblittleman

The Underdogs

Malcolm Gladwell writes in his article “How Underdogs can Win”:

“What happened when the underdogs […] acknowledged their weakness and chose an unconventional strategy? […] In those cases, David’s winning percentage went from 28.5 to 63.6. When underdogs choose not to play by Goliath’s rules, they win”.

He uses the example of David and Goliath, where if David had fought Goliath on his terms, he would have almost certainly lost. Playing by different rules, and using ingenuity, David became an unlikely winner.

Sometimes it pays to play by your own rules. Sometimes you can’t do things the way they’re typically done. Sometimes failure means finding a better way to do something. Being unconventional is admitting that there might be other/better ways to win.

When trying something new, you may not even have support, or a clear way to do what you want to do. In those cases you have the freedom to build your own path, to buck convention, to be small and nimble. Advantages don’t always look impressive, nor do they have to. Being the underdog isn’t a bad thing. It might mean you have more at stake, more to prove, more headroom to grow, and more reasons to succeed.

Share some stories about being an underdog, or being unconventional.

How to Avoid Being a Fool.

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Being right can give people a powerful urge to show other people exactly how and why they are wrong.

I said this. I like it. Sometimes I come up with these little thoughts and I get super excited about them, but have no idea where they came from. Sometimes me smart.

I love being right. Most people probably love being right. Being right means you’re not wrong. Being right means you know something. Unfortunately, sometimes being right makes you an asshole. It’s not the fact that you ARE right that’s the problem. It’s how you choose to be right. Following?

I remember being younger, and being incredibly self-righteous. If I knew someone else was wrong, and they were trying to convince others they they were right, I took pleasure in letting them down. Hard. I did this a lot when I first started dating. I did it in church a little too, when I was really convinced about my faith and how correct it was.

You know what? I hate when people are jerks about truth. It makes truth bitter. It makes you less likely to care what they say. Truth is truth, and it will be truth. Truth acts like truth. You don’t have to act right to prove truth. And that urge to show other people when they are wrong? Yeah, that’s actually insecurity or pride. Perhaps it’s insecurity about yourself, so you compensate by jumping at opportunities to be right. Perhaps it’s pride about how much you know and you need to reveal how much you know to others. Either way, it’s ugly.

I think opportunities to share and teach are better than opportunities to correct. I think encouraging others it’s a much more powerful tool than criticizing others. Dale Carnegie put it perfectly:

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain – and most fools do.

You should read his book, How To Win Friends and Influence People. It’s amazing.

Masters and Servants

It is the masters, not the servants, who have to maintain their stature.

Those on top have to continue working to be on top, but those who serve from the bottom are not limited by the demands of the top. Service frees people to do more with less. Power constricts people to doing less with their excess. This is often known as being “top heavy.”

Equality

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Equality doesn’t mean everyone is equal, that removes individuality. Equality means that everyone is just as free to explore their individuality.

This is something I journaled when I was 16. I find that it still rings through. Equality isn’t necessarily equal footing, or equal skills, or point-by-point equals. Equality is recognition of individuality, and the equal valuing of each person.