What about when it must be done? Then you absolutely have to do it. No matter what.
I’m on a coaching call and say, “You can do whatever you want.” This executive is weighing options in search of the best one. We hash out the pros and cons of the obvious choices before moving on to the not-so-obvious choices. As I am wont to do, I challenge my client to consider any and every option. Even the ones we tend to think we can’t possibly pick.
I specialize in bold mistakes. -Paul McCartney
I was watching that new documentary with Rick Ruben, famed record producer, and Paul McCartney. In one of their conversations, Paul uttered that quote.
McCartney was often criticized for writing pop, upbeat little love songs while some viewed John Lennon as the more serious songwriter. Paul explains that his viewpoint originated from his good childhood. A childhood he assumed everybody experienced. Paul was, and remains, highly optimistic. Judge him by the songs he authored. “Here Comes The Sun,” is a perfect example.
I watch one of the two remaining Beatles now in his late 70s and he’s got a boyish look to him. Even now. The music of his youth – the Beatles broke up in April 1970. Paul was only 29. The Beatles had been together for 8 years. Here he is listening to Beatles’ tracks with Rick Ruben. They’re dissecting some, commenting along the way as Paul reminisces of recordings made over 50 years ago. His enthusiasm for the songs and those times is evident in his eyes.
John Lennon was a very different man. A different songwriter. A different person who grew up quite differently from Paul. And as a result, John didn’t share Paul’s optimism. His songs reflect the differences. Paul confesses that he just assumed everybody grew up as he did, but John showed him that wasn’t true.
Stories like that are important to this conversation because the real point of it all is “possibility.” Not probability. Not likelihood. Not even practicality. Which is why I love the sentiment about a 4-year-old in a Batman cape.
Kids often do, or dream of doing, what can’t be done. We did it when we were kids. All the time.
We built forts we never thought we could. Treehouses, too.
We imagined we were all kinds of characters, living in completely made-up places. Or real places.
We dreamed of becoming all sorts of things…like writers or cartoonists. 😉 I didn’t really become either one, but my whole life has been influenced by those early dreams.
Friends dreamed of becoming attorneys, veterinarians, doctors, teachers, nurses, or auto mechanics. Did any of them make it? Most likely found something else. Or like me, stumbled into something else.
Today, I’m preoccupied with two narratives. The victim. Or the hero. Which will you be? Which role are you playing right now?
The human brain – 3 pounds and 15 centimeters of incredible processing power. About the size of two clenched fists, which may be a fitting comparative measurement for many of us. Lots of us go through life clenching our minds. That’s the opposite of having or getting our minds right.
I think about the Old Testament figure, King Saul. Early in his reign, with Samuel as his mentor, Saul was a great warrior for Israel. He conquered enemies and made progress in creating a nation out of the twelve tribes. Then David entered the picture. Saul began to show signs of emotional distress and anxiety. According to 1 Samuel 16:14, it was made worse because God’s Spirit left him due to his own self-centeredness. Ironically, only David’s harp playing drove the demon away (verse 23).
Growing up it was my first encounter with the power of music in helping us get our minds right. I’ve wondered what influence that has on my lifelong love affair with music. I know this much…my life would be significantly less calm, less thoughtful, and less whatever else might describe good feelings without it. As I write this I’m listening to Jackson Browne’s latest record, Downhill From Everywhere. No, I don’t agree with his liberal politics, but that’s just a perspective rather than some agenda ’cause I’m apolitical. Jackson is very political, but I love his voice and the music. I can overlook what I disagree with and enjoy the man’s talent. When it comes to music, I’m able to keep my mind right. 😉
I can’t think of any phrase involving “getting your mind right” without thinking of Strother Martin’s character in Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman.
Paul Newman’s character, Luke, is on a prison chain gang. He’s popular with the other inmates. He’s also constantly escaping, but he refused to break under the pressure of the warden, played by Strother Martin. But the guards and the warden are constantly exhorting Luke to “get his mind right.” Translation, stop giving us trouble. Just do as you’re told.
Well, I don’t mean it that way. So let’s talk about what it really means to have your mind right by first talking about having your mind wrong.
P.S. There is a place where I’m better able to get my mind right. It’s why I started a new podcast about 60 days ago – HotSpringsVillageInsideOut.com.
3 am whispered. A lamp in the corner normally illuminates a daylight LED bulb. But that’s only in the daytime. During the quietness of the night, the daylight bulb gives way to a red bulb. Like a photographer’s darkroom. Except I’m developing ideas, not film.
Headphones are on. My Apple iTunes library is launched. I scroll through “Recently Added.” Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers “Angel Dream” was released just days ago. I miss Tom. And the Heartbreakers. The ringtone on my phone is “You Wreck Me,” proving my fondness for Tom’s music. Hours are spent in the darkness of night with headphones on, listening to music.
Track 3 of “Angel Dreams” fires up, Change The Locks.
I can relate to this song. More now than ever.
I changed the lock on my front door
So you can’t see me anymore
And you can’t come inside my house
And you can’t lie down on my couch
I changed the lock on my front door
And I changed the number on my phone
So you can’t call me up at home
And you can’t say those things to me
That make me fall down on my knees
I changed the number on my phone
’Cause I changed the kind of car I drive
So you can’t see me when I go by
And you can’t chase me up the street
And you can’t knock me off of my feet
I changed the kind of car I drive
I changed the kind of clothes I wear
So you can’t find me anywhere
You can’t spot me in a crowd
And you can’t call my name out loud
I changed the kind of clothes I wear
It’s 3:22 am when I begin to wonder – for the umpteenth time – whether or not my caffeinated drink mixes are contributing to my insomnia. I’ve been down this rabbit hole before. Many times. I consume about 120 milligrams daily. According to the FDA website that’s not excessive.
For healthy adults, the FDA has cited 400 milligrams a day—that’s about four or five cups of coffee—as an amount not generally associated with dangerous, negative effects. However, there is wide variation in both how sensitive people are to the effects of caffeine and how fast they metabolize it (break it down).
Doing some basic math with the help of a calculator that sits right by my mouse, I figure it’s been many years since I consumed 400 milligrams or more. Dr. Pepper was once my drug of choice. Then Diet Dr. Pepper. Then Dr. Pepper Zero. I’ve got a handful of liter bottles in the pantry right now that have been there for months. Rarely do I venture away from a 38-ounce bottle of water with a single Crystal Light Strawberry drink mix inserted. I’m not sure caffeine is much of a player anymore, but here I am wide awake at 3:40 am wondering about it.
Should I give it up completely? I wonder. But of all the things that might be keeping me up, I rather doubt caffeine is much of a contributor. It’s more substantial than that I figure.
As the clock approaches 4 am I’m on track 10 listening to Tom sing, “Climb That Hill.”
You got to get up and climb that hill
Get up and climb that hill
You got to get up and climb that hill again
Cares. It’s an interesting term for life’s problems. Cares.
We ascribe caring to things positive.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” ― Theodore Roosevelt
“He’s a loser. He just doesn’t care.”
“He could not care less.”
So the anti-sentiment is careless. Care. Less. We sure don’t want to be that.
Then modern culture admonishes us to stop caring what others think. Selfishness and self-centeredness are considered acts of courage. Disregard the voices in your life who attempt to help you. Don’t listen to anybody other than yourself. Sure, you can do that, but it’s a high-risk proposition.
I’m all for tuning out people who aren’t there to help us. People who simply want to throw rocks at our parade so they can feel better about themselves. People who are filled with only harsh, unjustified judgment. But these aren’t the people who love us and want our very best. We really need to give an ear to these people and carefully (there’s a derivative of that word) consider their feedback. They may save us from being foolish. Or from being more foolish.
Just the right amount of care – and caring. Good luck with that, I think. Does anybody have that figured out? I sure don’t.
I start thinking about doctors and bedside manners. Displays of caring.
Do you judge a doctor’s competence based on how personable they are? Yep, me, too. You realize they could be a complete buffoon medically, but if they’re believable and they have a great bedside manner, then we love them. Logic doesn’t always dictate our actions.
Mark Cuban was on local radio talking about the new people leading the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, particularly the new GM who is some hotshot from Nike. Mark said about him, “Lots of people know basketball, but not many people know people. He knows people.”
That ability to relate and connect to others is powerful. Powerful enough to lure a high-end guy from Nike. Powerful enough to keep us going to the same dentists and doctors. Powerful enough for us to change insurance agents. To hire new real estate agents. Or anybody else we need to do things for us.
INFJ: Have “creative space” at an Airbnb in a new town
INFJs love learning and being creative, but are often employed or find themselves in situations where they are giving advice, helping people in need, or managing relationships. Being the empathetic one in the room who understands both sides of an issue can really help bring harmony to workplaces and families. However, it can be exhausting as the one in the middle. During the pandemic, with families face-to-face more often, and with a lot of drama happening over social media, INFJs may have found themselves caught up in a lot of situations where they’re needed.
If you’re an INFJ, a good vacation idea may be to get away to an Airbnb rental in a quiet town where you can take some time for yourself. Unplug from social media, tell your friends and family you’re not available, and just spend time in your mind. Write down those stories that you keep wanting to create but can’t find the right time, let yourself daydream, or just get back in tune with your own feelings instead of worrying about everyone else’s. A creative space is important for many introverts. Let yourself be spontaneously creative just for the joy of it, without worrying what others will think, whether that means drawing, painting, or picking up that guitar you’ve neglected for far too long. Hopefully, your retreat will inspire you with new insights that will recharge you to go back to normal life afterward.
We want to care, but not too much. We want others to view us favorably, but at the same time, we don’t want to care about what others think of us.
And in the context of cares, as in the cares of our life, these aren’t joys, but burdens. They’re cares because we care about them. We worry about them, fret over them, and wrestle with them.
It seems to me that one of our shared challenges is figuring out how to care enough about some things and how to care a bit less about other things. Getting just the right amount of caring seems like an impossible task.
“I don’t care what anybody thinks,” she says. But that’s a lie. I’ve seen folks jump on social media and strongly preach that message as if they’re trying to convince themselves they don’t care what others think. So I wonder why are they constantly talking about it? Makes no sense. They clearly do care a great deal about what people think. Culture presupposes that’s a bad thing, but we all grew up knowing how important it was to avoid having idiots for friends. People who might try to influence us to be morons and do stupid, foolish stuff. It never works out when you care what those people think, but it can matter a great deal what good people think – people who are devoted to helping us become better.
It translates to our cares, too. A person can describe one of their cares as being able to buy an $85,000 luxury car. I don’t share that care, but I’m not minimizing it for somebody else. We care about what we care about. I’ve had neighbors who invested tens of thousands of dollars in home renovation. Some hundreds of thousands. We once had a neighbor who spent the better part of 2 years redoing the inside and outside of their house, including landscaping, pool area, and the construction of a detached garage workshop. Only to put the house on the market within a year of completion. During the renovation, they cared about it. It was a major care! The husband would regularly remark how it was adding 5 years onto his working life to pay for all that work. A five-year delay in retirement in order to fund something that was so important they were willing to live with constant construction, and a spigot that constantly released cash. Then, when it was over they no longer cared at all. Not enough to hang onto the house they had so carefully built to be exactly as they wanted. Sometimes our cares are irrational. Foolish even!
But it is what it is.
Tom Petty continues to sing and I continue to think. To ponder. About my cares.
Largely, my cares are unchanged. Faith is foremost. Family is next. Then providing for my family, my career. The specifics of my cares aren’t static. For example, there have been times where the faith focus on pretty solely on increasing and improving my Bible knowledge. That’s always important, but sometimes the focus has shifted a bit as I’ve worked to help somebody through some extremely challenging situation. My cares shift within the context of faith.
Family focus shifts, too. My wife is always top-of-mind, but there have been times where the kids were the focus. Now there may be times when the grandkids are the focus. Not to the exclusion of others in the family. It just changes as circumstances and situations change. Same goes for career and professional pursuits.
It’s now well past 4 am and I’m remembering our young family and buying our first new house. Talk about cares! I’m thinking of how life has changed. A lot! Perspective. Circumstances. Situations. Ups. Downs. Blindsided by some things. Watching other things unfold over time. It’s your life. My life. Everybody’s life.
I care about some things that weren’t quite on my radar a few years ago. I’m more focused on my spiritual and mental health – in some new ways – than ever before. I’m far more aware of how negatively I’m impacted by some things. It first came home a few years when after an hour-long phone call, holding my phone up to my ear, I enjoyed an indescribable pain in my right shoulder. Within 6 hours Rhonda had taken me to the emergency room where a battery of tests revealed no known reason for the pain my shoulder, but perhaps I had a cholesterol level that was too high. Turns out I had some severe shoulder arthritis thanks to a football injury when I separated my shoulder as a 20-something playing recreational tackle football in the dead of winter on a frozen field. The chickens had come home to roost many years later. But it also turns out my bad cholesterol was about 145, which was entirely too high to suit my doctor who promptly put me on a statin after telling me how statins should be in our water supply, like fluoride. As a heart patient himself, this thin, wiry internal medicine specialist had a very strong feeling in favor of statins. I’ve been on a statin ever since, maintaining a cholesterol level of about 70. But the years of higher cholesterol take a toll I learned.
Like stress. Or weight.
We don’t think it’ll catch up with us. Until it does. Things change. That thing we didn’t think about before suddenly becomes our number 1 care!
Sometimes a life event knocks us to our knees and changes everything.
Mat Kearney is a Nashville-based singer/songwriter originally from Oregon. In 2009 he released a song, Closer To Love. Here’s the first verse:
She got the call today, one out of the grey And when the smoke cleared, it took her breath away She said she didn’t believe it could happen to me I guess we’re all one phone call from our knees We’re gonna get there soon
If every building falls, and all the stars fade We’ll still be singin’ this song, the one they can’t take away Gonna get there soon, she’s gonna be there too Cryin’ in her room, prayin’ “Lord come through” We’re gonna get there soon
Oh it’s your light, oh it’s your way Pull me out of the dark, just to shoulder the weight Cryin’ out now, from so far away You pull me closer to love, closer to love
It happens. To all of us. Out of the blue. Or grey. We’re blindsided with a gut punch when we weren’t protecting ourselves.
I first experienced having the wind knocked out of my lungs playing on a junior high football field during a kickoff. I never saw who hit me because it came from slightly behind on my left side. I wasn’t hurt, but I couldn’t breathe. For about 5 seconds. Not a great feeling, but I recovered quickly enough. Not all recoveries are that fast. Most aren’t.
The death of a family member or close friend takes much, much longer. Elongated illnesses and similar events that don’t have a definite conclusion (yet), those drag on for however long they drag on. Some cares are so significant you don’t recover. You just adapt so you can cope. Ideally, we adapt so we can cope better, but that’s rarely easy. Especially when the care is so significant it seems to define or identify us. Ask any cancer patient and they can likely explain that better.
God is a vital component for me. Jesus warned in Mark and Luke that the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word and make it unfruitful. Not all cares are bad, but not all of them are important either. God asks us to cast our burdens on Him, but that doesn’t mean He has promised to remove them. They may go away. They may not. But our devotion to God enables us to have His help to shoulder them. Some cares, we must endure. Others we may be able to overcome.
As the wee hours of the morning keep on rolling I’m thinking about my cares and realize the biggest one is beyond my control. It involves somebody I love very much, but somebody with whom I’m powerless to influence. People are able to do as they please, even if it’s destructive. We can’t live somebody else’s life. Those of you who are troubled over the life of people you love understand what I’m feeling. There are lots of us out here…more than not, in fact.
My second biggest care is associated with the first one. In a similar fashion, I’m not able to influence it very much. Mostly, for me, acceptance has been the work. Coming to terms with the reality so I can figure out a way forward. Casting the cares on God and leaning on faith have been not just critical, but central. There’s no miraculous solutions though. It’s still arduous work, made worse because some of us have trouble pushing thoughts of these things out of our mind. It’s the destructive power of cares. They have the power to consume us if we allow it. We have to do everything possible to avoid that. Else, we make matters worse.
When I was a young leader an employee entered my office requesting some time. He sat down and I could tell this needed to be a closed-door meeting. After closing the door, we both took a seat, him across from me sitting at my desk. With eyes watering he told me he and his wife appeared headed for divorce. He wanted me to know.
I sat quietly fighting off the waterworks in my own eyes as this young husband, not unlike myself, told me of the weeks leading up to this. Along the way, he explained how this had impacted his work performance. He apologized. I listened.
When he finished I told him I was sorry for he and his wife. I asked if they were certain it was over. I was hopeful they might be able to recover, but it seemed apparent they were long past any hope of that. Couples counseling had proven unsuccessful. She wanted a very different life than the one they had built together. He wanted a home. She wanted a party.
As we talked I told him I’d do my best to serve him at work any way I could. Before we adjourned, I felt the urge to challenge him – in a positive way. I was thinking, “This man needs a positive challenge in his life.” I was hoping I was right, but I figured given the circumstance, I had very little to lose.
“Best I can tell, you doing great work may be the best you can do. I know this, letting your career follow suit with this area of your life would just make matters worse. Can we agree that much of this is beyond your control – and certainly my control? And can we agree to unite to help you find as much success here at work as possible? I know it won’t make things with her okay, but it seems to me you need some positive success and I know you’re capable of that.”
My intuition was that if his man allowed this to cripple his career, that would make matters worse. Much worse. Sometimes we do make matters worse because we just can’t find a way to separate what’s happening with us from other things that are important. Nobody should dare compare marriage to a career, but these aren’t mutually exclusive things. We figure ways to manage both. Simultaneously.
The point is, how are we going to make matters better? What can we do to avoid making matters worse? Else cares will consume us.
Part of my concerns or cares focus on clutter.
“Out of clutter, find simplicity.” ― Albert Einstein
I often joke that I’m just one good house fire away from becoming the minimalist that I’d like to be.
“Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.” ― Wendell Berry, Farming: a hand book
No, I don’t want a house fire, but it does express the emotional drag that clutter can bring to bear on our lives. At least, for those of us who don’t want it.
Have you wondered what clutter is hiding? Or what uncluttering might reveal?
I suspect it’s quite a lot. In both directions.
I know this because there have been numerous times in my life when going through some box I’d remark, “Look at this. I wondered where this thing had gone!” In the midst of all the clutter, some things we once valued are lost. Maybe we’d like to reconnect with them. Maybe not. Maybe we have a quick trip down Memory Lane, then we junk it. Maybe we dust it off and find it a new home – one we can remember.
Clutter and chattel are two edges of the same knife. I’m using a knife instead of a coin because coins aren’t dangerous. Clutter and chattel can both be dangerous. We know through shows like Hoarders that clutter can be both physically and mentally dangerous. For me, both can be dangerous because of the distraction they deliver. And the negative impact on my mental health, something I’m more closely attuned to now than any other time in my life.
Chattel is a term you don’t hear much. Okay, ever!
Simply, chattel is personal property that can be moved. It would be all that stuff that a moving truck would take if you were to move. All clutter is chattel but not all chattel is clutter.
As the clock nears 5 am I climb back into bed knowing that within the hour I’ll be up for the day. Tonight, my mind doesn’t want to tackle any more thoughts of clutter and chattel. Besides, yawning has grown to epidemic proportions.
Six o’clock arrives and my wife gets up. I’m awake, but barely. I lay in bed for another 20 minutes drifting in and out of consciousness, but all the while remembering where my thoughts left off. Clutter and chattel. I’m laying there wondering what it might be like to have a very different Yellow Studio. A place where there might be 2 bookcases. Or one large one. A filing cabinet. My broadcasting table, which is a modified conference table. And all my technology of course. But what if everything was cleared out? How would that feel?
Great. That’s what I think. I know I’d miss looking at the spines of books I’ve owned for decades. They’re often a great muse. But what’s their real value? Hard to say because it’s even harder to determine that.
Rise and shine. Okay, forget the shine part. But I’m up. It’s 6:20 am and I’m no worse for the wear of the night.
By 7 am I’m jotting down notes and ideas. I’m thinking of strategy, full well knowing it’ll be some time before I take action. Mostly because I’m lazy and don’t want to. And it’s not because the payoff isn’t sufficient. It’s because it’s going to be a LOT of work and I hate starting something that takes forever to finish. I don’t mind beginnings. I don’t mind the end. It’s the in-between that can drive me crazy on projects like this. Experience has taught me that thinking of strategy doesn’t often help. Diving in, then figuring it out in progress works MUCH better.
Which makes sense to me because I tell coaching clients to take action. Don’t overthink it. Be thoughtful. Be aware of others and how your influence impacts them. But don’t aim, aim and aim. Our reluctance to fire spoils success. I’ve found that everybody has their own individual tolerance or barometer for how much aiming to do before firing. Some shoot from the hip constantly, never aiming at anything. I wouldn’t suggest it. Others, aim, aim, aim, aim then fire. That delay in taking action delays the necessary adjustments required to hit the target more accurately. Get the first shot off, then adjust. If we put in the work, we can all improve wherever we’re at on the speed/over-thinking spectrum. For some, it means being less impulsive and more conscious of consequences. For others, it means managing our thoughts that everything will go wrong.
I begin the morning jumping on a Zoom coaching call. At some point the conversation turns toward how we view possible outcomes. Will it work? Will it fail? Glass half full? Glass half empty?
Some days earlier in my journal I’d recorded some thoughts about the power of naivete. It seems to me that it’s a big part of curiosity. And bravery.
For instance, I’m having a conversation with a couple of clients and a phrase enters the conversation that I’ve never heard. It’s particular to their industry. Every industry has terms and a vocabulary all its own. Rather than act like I understand – which I don’t – I pause the conversation and ask, “What is that?” They explain it to me. Good to know. I’m not bashful to ask. I lean into my naivete because I’d rather understand and look stupid than not understand and appear smart. I have no interest in faking smartness (knowledge) and understanding.
Naivete is a contributing factor to optimism. There is something to knowing too much. Like knowing how hard it is to succeed at something. So much so, you don’t try. Or you don’t try as hard as you could. The coaching call ends with me challenging the client to figure out a strategy that can improve optimism and more positive thoughts. This client, like some, leans into a focus on what will likely go wrong rather than what will likely go right!
These four C’s represent the array of things in our life. From the trivial, like caffeine. To the really important, like cares. And all the stuff in the middle – our stuff. Consumerism is alive and well. Just look at all the Amazon deliveries to your house and your neighbors.
The self-storage industry is approaching $40 billion annually with almost 50,000 facilities that represent almost 2 billion square feet. The average monthly expense is about $90 for 14 months.
Over the past 42 years, the average new house built in America has increased by more than 1,000 square feet from the 1973 average of 1,660 feet. Today, the average new home being built is about 2,300 square feet, down from the peak size from 2015 when houses were almost 2,700 square feet.
In spite of the tiny home trend and interest in minimalism, people are still quite interested in more and more square footage. Never mind that almost everybody I know reports living in a percentage of their house. And now, as empty-nesters, we know that feeling. We live in about a third of our house. Guest bedroom suit, dining room, den, another extra bedroom – go largely unused week after week after week. It’s a lot of square footage. And the space we do fully occupy has way too much stuff. The Yellow Studio is a perfect illustration. Seven bookcases filled from top to bottom. An almost six feet tall CD fixture that holds about 3,000 CDs – with every space filled and stacks of CDs on top. A 2-drawer lateral file filled to the brim. A six cube cloth basket fixture sits on top of the file cabinet. One corner with hundreds of baseballs collected on morning walks.
Impacting life negatively. Elevating stress. And anxiety.
After I end this client Zoom session I have an hour to do some other work, but I don’t – well, not if you count Leaning Toward Wisdom as not working! I think about this episode and how I’m likely not being nearly as naive as I should be when it comes to all this stuff – these things I’m thinking of changing.
Like less caffeine.
Fewer cares. More precisely fewer less important cares.
Eliminating clutter. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Less chattel. Just the things I use daily, weekly, monthly or annually. That’ll cover seasonal clothing. Why do I have it if I don’t use it at least annually?
I have no good answers for any of this. Only one thing remains. A mind made up!
How do you make up your mind? You just do. You commit by taking meaningful action.
I’m working on it. But mostly I feel like I’m stuck in aim mode. Time to find the trigger and pull it.
If things stay as they are, you’ll stay as you are. It’s just how life and entropy work.
I’m sitting across from a new client. Ninety-nine percent of the time within 15 minutes I’m hearing a person’s life story. A gift I have, among very, very few. And one I’m thankful for – the ability to connect quickly with “most” people and gain their trust. It’s not magic. It’s because I’m genuinely interested. And I care. The single group of people who are an exception are arrogant, “I’m-the-smartest-person-in-this-room” types. I do not connect with them. And don’t want to. But I’ve never had such a person as a coaching client in the dozen or more years I’ve been doing this work. So there’s that!
This person isn’t arrogant. Just reserved. Better said, guarded. Extremely guarded. I respect it.
Until the 3rd session when I ask about how life is going and I’m told for the third time, “Fine.” That’s it. One word. “Fine.” No details are ever offered. Nothing. Probing has proven unsuccessful. I feel like a CIA interrogator trying to extract information from a professionally trained enemy spy. Okay, I actually feel like a very poor-performing CIA interrogator because I’m getting nothing.
In the middle of the 3rd session, I finally ask, “Okay, how is it REALLY going?”
I never said I had a perfect record. 😉
Self-deception has been a lifelong curiosity for me. I’d love to tell you that I have it all figured out, but I don’t. It’s like one of those magical worms that you cut in half and it grows a new head forming two worms. Sometimes the more we focus on killing self-deception the more self-deception we’re prone to have. Somebody with a bigger brain than mine is going to have help us with this. I’ve read plenty, but so far I’ve concluded that one of the best defenses of self-deception is having trusted advisors willing to challenge us. Easier said than done…finding such people.
Trusted advisors willing and able to help us avoid self-delusion aren’t easily captured. They are out there, but very difficult to spot. It’s much easier to find people who don’t fit the bill because they’re in the majority. That’s not a harsh judgment, it’s just the truth. People are busy. They have their own problems. They also have their own inner circle of people they’re already serving. Most lack the bandwidth to add you to the mix so I don’t blame people for being unavailable.
Others just aren’t fit for the task. For anybody. This is a rather large chunk of the population I suspect. Kind of like the people who live their entire life without telling anybody, “I love you.” We may not understand such people – I struggle to understand how that can be problematic for people, but I know it truly is. Others don’t find any way to ever say, “I’m sorry.” Such folks aren’t likely going to be great trusted advisors unless it pertains to some area in which they’re experts. For example, I people who have terrific financial expertise, but lack empathy or the ability to really connect at a personal level (have you seen the movie, The Accountant? 😉 ). They’d be great at telling you what to do with your money, but they’d likely be awful at sharing why you want to do something with your money.
Maybe it’ll help you if I share my lifelong journey with my own trusted advisors. I understand that my context is uniquely my own. But I hope you’ll be able to apply it to your own situation.
Like most kids, my folks were my very first trusted advisors. And my maternal grandmother. Three people. That was it. A really tight circle. I’m talking as a little kid through elementary school.
I always had friends, but as a little kid – even in elementary school – I didn’t rely on friends as trusted advisors about anything outside of school or playing together. Things like assignments, homework or what we might be planning to do for fun. Hardly the kind of advisors to help me know if I was being honest with myself. After all, being honest with myself meant telling my friends I’d rather play tennis than mini-golf.
Just here let’s make a distinction between trusted advisors and influencers. I had plenty of influencers. They were the adults in my life whom I admired. Many of them were gospel preachers because going to church and being Christians was the priority for my family. And in time, for me, too. When I was about 14 one of these men, in particular, became increasingly interesting to me. I saw him frequently and he had been a friend of my parents since he was about 16. He was younger than both of my parents. They esteemed him highly. I did, too. Mostly, I admired his Bible knowledge. My pursuit to make him a trusted advisor was in that context. He was, quite simply, a subject matter expert for me. The best Bible scholar I knew. But that was just the beginning.
By the time I was married, about 7 years later, he had grown into much, much more for me. Our time together had shown me I could trust him completely. He was, in a word, one of the safest people on the planet for me. That is, he was somebody who wouldn’t refrain from telling me what he felt I most needed to hear. He would listen to me, hear me and accept any confessions I might make with helpful counsel instead of critical judgments. One hundred percent of the time he always helped me, not by agreeing with me, but by pushing me to question things I may have otherwise not questioned. He challenged, pushed, cajoled and nudged – or anything else he felt necessary – to get me to move forward and grow stronger. He pushed me constantly to be better and refuse to accept the status quo. He saw my ambitions early – in my teen years – and he fueled them for good. I wanted to be a good husband. A wise dad. A faithful friend. A person capable of influencing others with the kind of service he had given me.
About 20 years separated us. It was ideal for me. Somebody a couple of decades ahead of me in the journey of life. Somebody who could point out the pitfalls. Somebody who had seen far more than me. Before his death, I recorded an episode about old friends. Ronny Wade died on January 7, 2020. He was 83. I was devastated. He was my last trusted advisor. The last of a handful of old men who had surrounded me since I was a boy. The man with whom I was closest. The man who had been only a phone call away every week for as long as I could remember. Gone. My most trusted, expert, safest advisor.
I circled the wagons as much as I could. I leaned into a few people but realized I was unfairly looking for strengths they simply lacked. I’ve found the ability to be that deeply trusted advisor is rare. I’d hoped somebody could step up and step in. But in time I faced the reality that I was wrong to seek that where I was looking. I was 63 and it was time to circle the wagons more tightly. So I did. Family. Mostly, two people – my wife and my son. By the time January 2021 rolled around – the one-year anniversary of Ronny’s passing – I was deeply committed to these two people as my most trusted advisors.
So began my journey and quest to figure out how we can best avoid self-deception.
That’s what is currently written across the top of the whiteboard in my office, The Yellow Studio. In parenthesis, I wrote: (Don’t Be Afraid Of Scaling). A friend uttered that challenge to me months ago. The context? Professional pursuits. Namely, trying to figure out how to effectively serve more clients. Shortly after that, I spent some quiet time as I am wont to do. Pondering time.
Don’t fret if you have no interest in hearing about professional or work pursuits. The lessons here transcend that. I think we’ll be able to make a solid application to just about any endeavor. In fact, I’ll be sharing my own insights in a variety of personal and professional pursuits. Because they universally share that whole “make the biggest difference” idea. I mean, who wants to pursue something that makes a minuscule difference? 😉
The Biggest Difference?
First things first, we have to define the biggest difference. It’s ridiculously individual.
You’ve heard me talk about “the ideal outcome.” In fact, I own that domain because it has become such a staple in my coaching practice. Few things are more powerful than each of us coming to terms with – and seeing clearly – our ideal outcome. While others may try to persuade us that the journey is the thing, I’m always challenging clients to gain a clear focus on what they most would like to achieve – “the ideal outcome.”
Here’s the thing about the biggest difference or the ideal outcome – they’re subject to change. In fact, they should change when we’re armed with new insights, information, and experiences. Things change! We change! So should our ideal outcome.
Prior to recording that show I had a few conversations with people about “irons in the fire.” We all have irons in the fire, a metaphor for pursuing a variety of things that we hope will succeed. Some of us have lots of irons in the fire, and we keep putting more irons in the fire. Others of us are more selective and careful about the irons we’re willing to place into the flame. Me? I ebb and flow. Sometimes I’m selective. Sometimes I’m more willing to say, “Yes.”
Experience has taught me that what we say “NO” to can be as important, or more important, than what we say “YES” to. In the past decade, I’ve been more of a say YES guy.
On my whiteboard below the stuff you see in that picture above, I drew some flames to represent the fire. Then I drew a number of lines to represent the various pursuits that are irons in the fire. I drew everything I do. Professional. Personal. All the activities I engage in daily or weekly. Then I drew two cross-diagonal lines through the “irons” I wanted to kill. I’m still working on it, but right now there are 7 irons in the fire. I have the kill lines across 2 of them. I have a question mark on 1 of the others. That leaves 4 irons I currently think I’d like to keep in the fire. I’m not sure this is how it’ll end up because I’m still figuring it out.
The point is, not every iron in our fire is going to get hot enough to be productive. Some will. Some won’t. There are two challenges: a) figuring out which irons you care most about and b) figuring out which irons have the greatest opportunity to get hot (gain traction and momentum). Neither of those is necessarily easy.
Think of a time when you felt stretched thin. Maybe it’s now. Maybe it once was. Maybe it feels like it’s always been that way.
Try writing down – on paper or a whiteboard – the activities. Get them all down. In full disclosure, I didn’t write down all of mine because some of them are non-negotiable. That is, they’re just so important they’re a given. It’s not about whether or not I can make the biggest difference in them or not. It’s more a matter of having to do them as well as I can because they matter that much! Like being a Christian. And a husband. And a dad. And a grandfather. Those irons are in the fire and they’ll be there until I die. I simply have to get each of them as right as I possibly can. There is never going to be a time in my life when I can take any of them for granted, or remove any of them. They’re the most critical irons in my fire. What are yours?
The other irons I did write down include all the podcasts, including this one. When it comes to traction or momentum, I don’t much care. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about you, the folks who give me their time and attention. I care deeply. But you’re really a cherry on top of a world-class sundae for me. I’m doing this because I want to. Maybe better said, because I have to. To record some things as they’re happening, or as I’m thinking of them. It’s important to me to speak for myself and chronicle some things. I’ve always been honest and transparent that this podcast is mostly a legacy project. That’s how it began and likely that’s how’ll it’ll end. So keeping this iron in the fire is an easy decision for me. Not because it’s high value for you (which I hope it is), but because it’s high value for me.
How can you determine what makes the biggest difference? I’ll share with you how I’m going about it. Keep in mind, I don’t claim to have this figured out yet. I’m in the throes of trying to figure it out. Here’s the thing about figuring it out…do you ever really know when you’ve achieved it? Do you ever really achieve it? Or do you just get closer and closer? I don’t know the answers. So we just keep pushing forward, right?
First of all, I can pretty easily figure out what isn’t making the biggest difference. I mean, I know the things that aren’t moving forward. I know when things have stopped working. Or they’ve stopped working so well. But here’s the thing. Sometimes we’re tempted to hang onto those things in hopes we can figure out how to recapture the magic. If it was working before – but now it’s not – we can spend way too much time trying to get the momentum back. I’m doing my best to learn how to turn the page and let go. That has never been easy for me. My wife can do it well. She does it instinctively. Which is great for her, but it makes her ability to teach me cumbersome. Because she doesn’t really know how she does it. She just does.
One of the best tools that has helped me combat this is the realization that I’m wasting time that would be better spent in pursuing a different course and the understanding that that was then, this is now. Everything has a time. If the time is past when I once had traction in something that was making a big difference, but now that traction is completely gone — then I’m faced with the reality to spin my wheels going nowhere, or working to find traction in something new. It’s far more invigorating to search for new traction. So I’m learning to turn loose and move on. It’s not easy, but it is doable.
Next, I gauge my interest or passion. If something worked well before, but now it’s not working then I know I need to get in really good touch with my energy level for something. Some years ago I had a life-altering event and it disrupted some things that had become second nature for me – making the biggest difference I could. Circumstances changed. Opinions, too. Suddenly, through no fault of my own, I was seen by some as less than I was prior. Even though I had done nothing – and my oldest mentors urged me to deal with the question, “How have YOU changed?” (the answer to which was, “I haven’t!”) – dealing with the harsh judgments of others wasn’t comfortable. But pride being what it is, I understood what was happening. When life punches you in the gut you need a moment or two to get back on your feet. I needed a moment or two.
During those moments I saw the clamoring that goes on when people enjoy looking down on others. When ambitious people want to be seen in greater glory. It’s just how life works.
It wasn’t long until I gauged my own passion for work I’d been doing most of my adult life. And I realized I’d lost the energy for it. Was it because of the events and circumstances? Absolutely, but mostly it was the result of a few people who enjoyed seeing the sorrow happen to somebody else. You know people like that. People whose lives are made better by the suffering of others.
Initially, I resisted my change in energy because I didn’t want a few people to overshine what I felt was the majority opinion. You see, my personal tragedy wasn’t celebrated by most. Only by a few. But in such times the racquet of the few drowns out the majority. Like on social media! 😀
What I discovered over time is that I had always (ALWAYS) behaved and gone about my work quietly, operating mostly below the radar. Out of sight, out of mind. Right where I mostly enjoyed operating. But I’m a vocal and communicative introvert. So I made a conscious decision to get very quiet, which was surprisingly easy. And easier. Better yet, I grew silent in this one arena of my life. I’m still silent in that arena and have been for almost 3 years. And I’m good with it. Don’t see it changing. Because I’ve learned what was always true for me – the one person matters more to me because I can best serve the one person!
It’s important to understand exactly what drains your energy and what increases it. I had known this all along, but had forgotten during the sorrow and sadness. So I reclaimed it and it made not only a difference to the one, but it made a difference to me.
These are the 2 big ways I’ve found I can push forward to figuring out how to make the biggest difference. It’s still a work in progress, but I know I’m making progress.
Where Can You Make The Biggest Difference?
It’s not likely just one area. But what if it is? Who cares? A big difference is a big difference. Some of us can have a bigger impact than others. Some of us are more talented. More ambitious. Harder working. Know and are known by more people. Others of us, like me, are far more comfortable working the spotlight to aim it toward those who do their best work under the lights. Rather than judge it, let’s just lean into being more of what we really are – albeit, the best version of ourselves – and let it ride.
This is what I’ve learned – especially over the past 3 years or so. My proactivity is still intact, but it has changed. I’m not a passive person. I don’t wait for the cavalry to come. Sometimes I wish they would, but life has taught me they never do.
That proactive nature is something I’ve tried to leverage for good, but sometimes it can frustrate me. In one big area of my life I’ve let that go by submitting to what others in the group want. It’s that same area where I’ve grown quiet. Today, I’m satisfied doing whatever the group would most want. And if the group isn’t able to figure that out, I’m not inclined to contribute or nudge forward in the least. Rather, I’m more contented to shrink back even further giving the group the opportunity to wrestle with the struggle themselves. It’s how we all grow and improve. My nature is to help the group figure it out more quickly – it’s why I’m a professional coach for leaders and executives. I don’t want to figure it out for others because that’s not helpful to them. I want to be proactive though in helping them figure it out. But sometimes, I’ve learned, the biggest difference you can make is to realize you can no longer make any difference at all. So you let things ride.
Professionally, clients don’t pay you to let things ride. They pay you hoping you can help them in ways nobody else can. This works well for me. While in one area of my life I’m resigned, I’m anything but resigned in another area. In fact, my ambitions have gone up exponentially, likely due to the shift in my life caused by some personal sorrow. Struggles, sadness, and sorrow are some of our greatest instructors. That’s absolutely been the case in my life. All of my life! I wish it were different. I wish the biggest positive difference in my life had come from wild success, but it’s not so. Colossal failure, heartache, and sorrow have been my very best teachers!
Where You Are Matters!
I turned 64 in May. Come January, Lord willing, Rhonda and I will have been married for 44 years. We’ve been a couple since July 1975, 46 years. We’ve been together 2.5 times longer than we haven’t. That’s one perspective. A big one.
We have 5 grandkids ranging in age from 14 to 6.
We’re less than a year away from qualifying for Medicare.
We have new goals we’ve established in the past year or two. Personal goals. Professional goals. Quite a lot has changed. Things haven’t worked out ideally in every area of life as we’d hoped. But you stand in the batter’s box looking at life’s pitches and deciding what you’ll swing at and what you’ll let go by.
At this stage of life, you worry about different things. Like being left alone. Like some serious illness overtaking one or both of you. Like the grandkids. Like the curveballs you know are coming…just hoping you recognize them quickly enough so you can adjust and deal with them.
Context. It’s your context. Where you are right now in life. That’s your context and it’s subject to change. It will change. Just give it a moment. Or two.
What may be your ideal outcome at this very moment may not be your ideal outcome 30 days from now. But it may remain unchanged. We’ll both just have to wait and see.
Lately, I’ve been thinking quite a lot of the tragic circumstances others have faced and some continue to face. The death of a mate. A bad diagnosis. The loss of a job or an entire career. The negative impact of a foolish, poor behaving adult child – or grandchild. The stories of suffering are comprehensive and widespread. We’ve all got our share. Some more than others.
I look at where people once were and where they are now. I watch as they attempt to navigate unchartered waters in their lives, knowing they’re not unchartered at all really because countless millions have enduring similar things. Each perhaps handling it in their own unique ways. Some better than others. Some able to make things better by leaning toward wisdom in their crisis. Others making things worse by leaning toward more foolishness. It’s largely the difference between being victimized by life or being energized by a refusal to be victimized.
I’m largely a victim of my own doing. Nothing more. Nothing less. So are you. But I admittedly choose that perspective.
Where I currently am is very different than where I’ve been before. Contextually. But it’s not much different at all really. Not when I consider the perspective of my own responsibility and accountability.
Life owes me nothing. Absolutely nothing. Random chance has happened. And along the way the realization that I, like everybody who has ever lived, or will ever live, have been blessed. Blessed by God above who set in motion things like air to breathe, rain to fall and sunshine to shine. Blessed mostly that God provided all of us a Savior so we could avoid dying in our sins, separated from God’s great favor. Like a forgiving friend who offers us a way to be redeemed from our betrayal, God has given every human a path forward. Never mind that we don’t all see it or want to see it. Never mind that we don’t all obey Him or even acknowledge He exists. It doesn’t remove the fact that He does indeed exist and that He did indeed do for us what we could never do for ourselves – give us a way to be redeemed from our sins.
Maybe you’ve had the perfect, most ideal life. I doubt it. I rather suspect you endured parents who weren’t perfect. Bosses who may have been tyrannical. A career that’s been up and down. Finances that have ebbed and flowed, with more of one than the other. In short, I think I’m on rather safe ground to assume that your life has been anything but perfect or ideal. I’m betting your life has had as many or more days of crying than laughing. More days of gloom than joy. Not because I’m a pessimist, but because I’m now more than ever, experienced at life. And it’s just how life works!
That doesn’t negate or minimize the joy. Or the laughter. Or the good times. I’m betting you’ve had many. But not enough. Because there’s never enough. But for a moment or two let’s consider where you are right now. Because that’s what matters. If we’re going to move toward making the biggest difference.
I have an appointment at a local city hall. I know the way, but here in DFW we have traffic. And with every destination, there are multiple routes. A great way to go at 8 am may be the least ideal path forward at 9 am. So I fire up Waze, an app on my iPhone that routes the quickest path between where I am and where I want to go. Waze uses location recognition to know where I am currently. Without that bit of information, Waze can’t possibly function. At all!
Where you currently are matters. So we’d best be coming to terms with where we are.
Something has occurred to me as I’ve grown older. People hate growing older. Men and women alike. For some reason, my newsfeed using Yahoo News! (don’t ask; it’s an old, old habit to have that has a home page ever since Excite bit the dust) I’m fed way too many older women pretending to still be young. To be fair, I get a reasonable amount of older men, too. Like Kevin Cosner. Or Gordon Ramsey. I hardly ever click on these, but clearly Yahoo knows how old I am so I guess they suppose I’m interested in all the Instagram pics of the likes of Elizabeth Hurley who seem intent on posting bikini pics. She’s 56. I Googled it. Ut oh, that means I’m now really gonna get picture suggestions with her.
Listen, I don’t care how hot Elizabeth Hurley is. Or if her abs are awesome. Good for her. But if she posts as many Instagram pics as Yahoo News claims – like multiple times weekly, I just wonder what that’s all about. It’s kinda odd, don’t you think? I mean if she’s 56 as Google reports I wonder where she’s currently at in her life. Other than maybe thinking she’s 26. But what do I know? Clearly not enough.
I’m not bemoaning somebody who can maintain some degree of hotness into their 50’s or 60s or beyond. But as somebody in their 60s I don’t much understand why the world has to know about it. Or why it would matter to me, as a Yahoo News home page guy. But I’m not trying to hang onto something that is long past. Like my youth. Truth is, I wasn’t hanging onto my youth back when I had it ’cause I was the kid who couldn’t wait to grow up. And even if you’re a hot 26-year old I don’t much understand why the whole world needs to see it. I have much to learn it seems.
But I digress, it seems. The point is knowing where you currently are. For instance, I know I’m not Instagram hot. 😉 I’m sorry to disappoint you, but it’s my reality. Well, actually, it’s the truth which makes it universally the reality!
So before you fire up whatever Waze app that you use to live your life, figure out where you are. That likely matters more than where you want to go although both matter. Remember, we’re working toward figuring out how to make the biggest difference. Okay, I can hear some of you guys saying Elizabeth Hurley’s Instagram pics are making the biggest difference. 😀 Come on, we can surely do better than a vanity metric, can’t we?
It’s been years since I was at Six Flags Over Texas, but they’d always have these big maps behind glass so patrons could figure out how to get to some other place in the park. First, you’d look for some “X” that would be marked, “You are here!” Until you located that, it didn’t matter where you wanted to go. Same thing in your life.
Where’s the X in your life marked, “You are here!”?
Lately, I’ve been watching lots of YouTube videos of private pilots. I do this every now and again. It’s not the first time that niche has captured my attention.
You can listen and watch these pilots as they shift from channel to channel, from one direction setting to another, from one altitude to another. Constantly shifting. Constantly adjusting. As their position changes they’re being told by air traffic controllers to adjust so they can eventually get to their desired destination. With flying, you’d think the straight line would always be in play, but sometimes things happen. Like increased air traffic. Or weather. Or some mechanical problem with the aircraft. Lots of things can happen. And even if the direction seems mostly in a straight line if you consider the adjustment in height…it’s very up and down. Up 1,000 feet. Down 1,000 feet. I’m always amazed at the focus required and the steady adjustments needed to take a small private aircraft from one airport to another. All because the location isn’t static. The plane is on the move. Just like your life.
Where Is Air Traffic Control When You Need Them?
I’ve already shared with you where mine is. God. Not in some “God spoke to me last night and told me to take that job” kind of a way, but in the Bible, God speaks to everybody. In Acts 10:34 the scripture says, “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.” (NKJV) The old KJV says “…God is no respecter of persons.” That is, God isn’t doing something uniquely special for you that He won’t do for somebody else. I know people enjoy thinking they’re God’s special person, but that’s contrary to what the Bible teaches. So I don’t mean it in that way.
The Bible clearly shows me that God cares about Eternity. Salvation in Heaven. Avoiding going to Hell. God wants every single person to be saved in Eternity. Well, that changes everything. Knowing that no matter what happens here, my Eternity destiny can be secured by following and obeying God…that’s a game-changer. And it’s demonstrated in how the early disciples in the 1st century were able to endure such persecutions and hardships in this life. And why the apostles mostly suffered being murdered for their faith. These were not happy outcomes in this life. But no matter, Eternity is where the biggest rewards are found. And those rewards don’t have to be impacted negatively by what happens to us here. Unless we let them.
But day to day we sometimes wish a person would just tell us the path correction to make, like those air traffic controllers directing all those planes. If only somebody would just tell me to adjust my course a few degrees in this direction or that direction. We’re having to fly our own planes and serve as our own air traffic controllers. It’s not easy. But it’s what’s required as we navigate our life.
We do need something from which to measure. I’ve shared with you what my true north is, God. But God’s Word doesn’t speak to what I do for a living, as long as I do something honorable, legal, and within the bounds of what God requires of anybody. That gives me a ton of latitude (and altitude) from which to choose. So I must deploy wisdom. My own and the wisdom others are willing to share. I alone must make my choices though. And then work to figure out if I got it mostly right, mostly wrong or somewhere in between. Because this much is sure – adjustments will be required.
The Realization That You’re A Finite Resource
There’s only so much of you to go around. That’s a fact.
We enjoy thinking we’re some limitless powerhouse, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Maybe two. But at some point, hopefully sooner than later (meaning hopefully younger not older) we learn we have capacity limits. And in just about every area of our life except our ability to learn, grow and improve. We can always get better!
There are people limits. No, there aren’t any limits to the number of people you can meet, be introduced to, or know. But there are limits to the number of people who you can be close enough to, safe enough with, to serve in the deepest way possible. Rather than lament that, you should be grateful that for some you are just the right person. That gives other people the opportunity to serve the folks who feel most comfortable with them. Nobody – this includes you and me – are the right person for everybody. It’s not possible. Let it go.
There are time limits. We mostly know this even if we don’t live as though we know it. We squander time more than any other thing I think. Mostly, I guess, because yesterday was much like the day before. And we expect today to go pretty much as yesterday did. So tomorrow…well, it’s gonna pretty much go like all the other days have. Until they don’t. Life shakes us and suddenly we’re facing an unknown. But as soon as we endure that crisis or celebration, things largely return to normal. Routine. The routine keeps us sane, but it lulls us into thinking we’ve got more time. Maybe we do. Maybe we don’t.
You have to say “no” before you can say “yes.” This can be hard. Harder still when you’re upping the stakes as I have in today’s show by challenging us to spend our time figuring out how to make the BIGGEST difference.
What are gonna kill today so something else can live – and more abundantly?
Don’t fool yourself into thinking everything you’re doing can survive and thrive. That may be possible if you’re narrowly focused, but almost everybody I know has far more irons in the fire than the fire can heat up. So what happens is our irons never get quite hot enough to do much with. Sure, we could build a bigger fire, but most of us lack the talent or know-how to do that. And most of us don’t yet understand how that all works. We see successful people who are into this, that and the other. Problem. We didn’t see them before their success. Back when they had a single focus because their fire looked an awful lot like ours does now. It’s fairly small.
Success – financial success – stoked their fire and made it much, much bigger. Today, they can easily accommodate irons the rest of us can’t. Being rich has clear advantages. 😉
I’ve seen it for decades. People see rich folks who have multiple streams of income and conclude, “That’s what I need to do.” Only to fail because nothing gains enough traction to really matter.
The reality is nearly all rich folks got rich in some in some singular arena. Real estate. Oil. Technology. Something specific and singular. Depending on the degree of financial reward sparked by that thing, other avenues opened up. Connections. Opportunities. They open up as the wealth increases. For good reason. Wealthy folks have the sought-after resource. Money. Influence. Power. The rich aren’t getting richer because of anything sinister. It’s the law of resource opportunity.
But we’re not watching them closely as they ascend. We don’t even know who they are. Until they’ve made it – and now they’re rich. And now we pay attention to them, but they’re into real estate, stocks, bitcoin, professional sports team ownership, and more. They didn’t start out that way. They started out being what In Search Of Excellence called, “monomaniacs on a mission.”
If you’re going to get an iron hot enough to do something productive, then you have to narrow the focus. That means, jettison the stuff that isn’t moving you forward. The stuff that isn’t working out. The things that take time away from the stuff that matters more. Your big impact is hampered by being too diluted. Chasing too many things.
I’ve Always Been A Media Company
Not a successful one, mind you. 😉
That’s why when you look at that photo of my whiteboard you see the things I know are necessary when I create content. High value to my audience. That’s the objective.
I do it by being myself. Rather than chase people who want to be “thought leaders” I do it by incorporating my whole self. Not as a guru, because I’m not one. Not as a thought leader, because I don’t even know what they do exactly. Not as a book author, because I’ve not yet written a book. And honestly don’t figure I ever will. But you never know. What I do know is that it’s not in the plans.
I do what I do the way I do it because I know we’re just a bunch of humans trying to figure things out. If a guy sitting inside a home studio dubbed The Yellow Studio can share some insights, experience and wisdom, then that may have some value. Will it make a big difference? That’s for each of you to decide. For me, I have to figure out how I can make the biggest difference. That doesn’t mean it’ll be enormous. Or even big by anybody’s standards other than what I’m most capable of. If it helped YOU, then I consider it a success. Because I’m still the little boy answering the questioning old man with, “It made a difference to that one!”