You. Changed. Me. 

Is there a difference between being proud of something and being prideful?

Is proud, as in the satisfaction of achievement, the same as pride, the excessively high opinion of oneself?

Is it okay to be proud of finishing college and proud when your football team wins or is that just another form of boasting?

It turns out, that there is no scripture reference where the word pride is used in a positive light. That in fact, any sort of reference to pride always lead people to their demise.

That’s not to say the feeling of accomplishment or fulfillment is wrong when we see a child take their first step.

The question is What are we doing with it?

One shift we can make is to adopt a new posture of meekness. As we do so, a whole bunch of things begin to open up.

That the non-profit you started doesn’t have to be measured in wide spread social impact to have made a difference. The teacher in a classroom full of students doesn’t need to look at the grades at the end of the year to see impact…

Because you didn’t change them.

They changed you.

As a result, you don’t need to judge your work by the number of hits/likes/lives impacted or changed. You merely write a song, paint a picture, write a blog, serve someone in the community…for the opportunity to transform your status-quo (not to raise your status).

Next time, someone gives you a compliment for a job well done, try turning around and saying “No, thank you. You changed me.” or “I’m glad that you are well pleased.”

Try it. It’s a subtle art form. Being thankful without inhaling can change how we view everything we produce. It frees us from seeking credit and reassurance. It frees us from attachment.

[It’s worth pointing out that the antonym of pride is shame. Brene Brown has described shame as this broken record in our head stuck on the two phrases “You’re not good enough” and “Who do you think you are?” It’s fitting. On one hand pride builds us up while shame tears us down. It’s everywhere once you begin to see it.]

Writer’s block

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 8.23.51 AM

As Joan Acocella has pointed out, writer’s block is a modern notion. It’s fake. It’s not real.

A professional basketball player doesn’t step up to the free throw line and forget how to shoot a free throw. A professional bus drivers doesn’t wonder how to drive a bus.

They shoot. They drive. Because they are professionals. The professional shows up even if they don’t feel like showing up. They do their job. They do their work.

So why then do writers get this pass of feeling blocked?

Steve Pressfield calls this Resistance. Resistance is the noise in our head that keeps up from being the person we are born to be. That noise is the amygdala.

The amygdala are two small nuclei about the size of an almond that connects directly to the spinal cord. It can react two to three seconds faster before the prefrontal cortex kicks in to reason with the situation.

So when someone yells Fore!, the amygdala reacts and tells us to duck. We don’t sit there and bargain, we react to keep us safe.

The problem is, like most of our brain, it has no capacity for language. So it doesn’t understand the difference between a text from the boss and a threat of a sabertooth tiger.

According to the amygdala, both are just as threatening to our survival.

So, when the writer sits down to type, Resistance begins to show up. It begins to lay out the reasons why we are not good enough. Why we will fail. It subverts us from shipping our work so that we won’t be criticized.

Subsequently, we too often decide it is better to play it safe. Then, we quit.

We quit because it’s easier to maintain the status-quo than it is to rock the boat. We quit because of Resistance. Because we are afraid. The story we begin to tell ourselves is, “I’m blocked. I have no good ideas.”

We grab on to the narrative of writer’s block because of how it makes us feel. We think we can let ourselves off the hook. That we can pause from doing scary work util we get unstuck.

The only way to become unstuck, to become unblocked is to do the work. To write. And then write some more. Write until the writing turns into better writing. No excuses. Just sit down on the chair and type.

Step up to the line. Shoot your shot.

HT Seth Godin.

The world doesn’t know you’re working behind the scenes

Because the world doesn’t know you exist.

And it won’t ever know who you are until you ship your work. Until you stand up. Stand out. Make a difference.

I have a friend that spent the last decade working on his dream to put a funny comic in the world. He’s all in. It has to work because he has nothing else.

This is a mistake.

Because what if that comic doesn’t resonate with the people he seeks to change. Then what?

Instead of working on one project, a far better approach, is to spend the next decade on a bunch of projects that might not work.

Ship your work often. Start small. Find one person that is deeply moved by the work you do. Then do it again. And then the next time? A little bigger, a little better.

Don’t find customers for your products. Find products for your customers.

The stumbling blocks of free

One of the first sizable donations Pivot Adventure ever received was enough to sponsor 12 students through our Resiliency Course. We were ecstatic to say the least.

It turned out though that the hard part wasn’t securing the donations. No, it was finding families to participate in a free course.

Once we were able to find students, we later found out that parents were not committed. In fact, other extracurricular activities (i.e. sports) had a higher priority. Why? Because they actually cost money.

Here’s the thing, education is now almost free. MIT has published all of their courses online for free. Library cards are free. Access to the internet is a monthly subscription…a bargain.

We have more access to more information than anyone could ever consume in their lifetime. Yet, the drop out rate for most online courses is over 90% within two weeks. 

Making your work, your education free is not the most generous thing we can do. Changing people for the better is the generous act. And you can’t do that without enrollment.

Money is a placebo. The amount you charge changes the story customers tell. The story your customers tell will determine the type of enrollment you get.

Which means finding ways to raise the stakes (and that might mean having the guts to charge more).

Status symbols

The culture has tricked us into believing that in order to move up in status you must have something that is scarce or more than someone else.

A private jet or yacht or elevator is scarce…a signal in status.

More money or a bigger house…a symbol of status.

Title, degree, badge…all symbols of status.

Except…

Except, these are all fake. A trap. Once you get one, there is alway something else to acquire. More relics to collect. More zeros on your paycheck.

The key to happiness is not in accumulating these symbols of status.

The key to happiness is to improve one’s experiences.

Incompetence

94% of the people in Europe were illiterate when the printing press was launched.

Needless to say, it took a while for books to spread through the masses.

Instead of being afraid of new ideas or new technologies, we need to learn to embrace this tension of illiteracy.

That when we try something new we are all going to be incompetent.

The future is paved with incompetence.

Lean in.

Game over

And a million people have signed a petition to redo the ending.

1,000,000 hardcore fans…that’s a lot. So many in fact, that it has taken the top story on Change.org—placing it higher than other more important issues like CVS dumping their food rather than donating it.

So, here is the question: If you knew the ending at the beginning would you still choose to go on this journey?

For eight years, GOT has worked to create this tension and when it was time to release it they left the viewers unsatisfied.

The problem isn’t that the ending didn’t match GOT fans expectations. The problem is what do we choose to fill this void with again?

Which makes sense to see mental health professionals are now making themselves available to talk to people about the show being over.

Will viewers choose another show to dive into or will they wake up?

GOT doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how the show ended because it’s not real, it’s an entertainment. There are lots of things in our world and the choices we are making that are fake.

Instead of investing into GOT, what if we were to spend that hour helping someone who needs to be helped or making something that needs to be made.

What could you accomplish?

That is a journey worth enrolling in.