Facts don’t carry a narrative

Rain doesn’t carry a narrative about your vacation you’ve spent months to plan.

It’s just rain.

It hasn’t come to ruin your day. The universe hasn’t come to spite you. That’s your narrative of how things are.

Here’s the thing about facts, they don’t carry the internal dialogue as we do. There is no voice in its head. It, simply, is.

We can save ourself a lot of trouble when we can begin to see things as they really are instead of how we want them to be.

Enough

We get down about our own story not because it is so bad.┬áNo, it’s because others have it so good.

At least, that is what we are telling ourselves.

It’s a first-world problem.

200 years ago, one couldn’t even dream of access to information at our fingertips and resources so abundantly available.

What would a king of old give up to just play with a smartphone for an hour? Or, perhaps, to fly in a plane?

It doesn’t line up.

If we could somehow transport someone from then to now, I think they would be astonished at the marvels we’ve created and disappointed by our outlook.

Human beings struggle to feel happy and content.

Industrialism has trained to believe that we should be content but never satisfied.

There is a better approach:

Why not simply create?

Because when we create, we must share. If we are sharing, we are saying to ourselves and signaling to others, “I have enough.”

When’s the last time you heard someone say they had enough?

We don’t live in a world of scarcity. We live in a world full opportunity. Every day is a chance to change things. Don’t waste it on filling it with more comfort.

Focus on what’s working

It’s not hard to see when something needs to be fixed.

Traffic lights, clocks, a software update…

But in the search for fixing things, we forget to see what actually works.

For example, oxygen works. All the time, in fact. Yet, we never notice it. Because if it did stop working, then we would quit working.

So, here’s the thing about systems:

When a system works perfectly, we forget it exists.

(Out of sight, out of mind.)

Things are not going to always work perfectly in our favor. And when the world feels like its conspiring against you, it’s important to note what’s keeps us alive to begin with.

Waiting to be picked

It’s tempting to wait until someone picks you before you begin.

But why wait to be picked?

Why not simply begin?

For thousands of years, you didn’t get paid for making music or writing books. You did it because you wanted you.

And when you were a kid, no one told you what to draw, you just picked.

Somewhere along the way, we lost that. The ability to make things for the fun of it.

We are creators by nature. All of us have this special ability to create things that bring about joy in the world.

The thing is…

No one is stopping you from writing your book or to sing your song.

No one is stopping you to start that non-profit you always wanted to start.

If you are waiting to be picked, you will be waiting forever.

Let’s be honest, no one is showing up with a blank check.

Instead, decide. Create. Initiate.

That’s the thing about initiation. It never runs out.

What do we owe to each other?

Are we responsible for telling someone the truth?

or

Do we wait for them to figure it out?

If we choose the latter, how long do we wait?

What if the path they are on is one of self-destruction?

It’s a fine line to walk.

Few thoughts on this:

  1. There are no maps. No step-by-step set of instructions to live a life of joy or meaning or happiness. What we need is a compass. A compass that helps us navigate through life’s challenges.
  2. Focus on the system, not the outcomes. Build a better system that leads to more desired outcomes.
  3. The story you’re telling yourself is not the same story they are telling themselves.

So, my answer is both and neither. Both because we should tell the truth and wait for people to figure it out. We can do that through storytelling, becoming a better choice architect, mastering the art of persuasion, leading with generosity and respect…And neither because when you have enrollment, you are much more likely to create change.

There are no right answers. Just better answers that lead to the next set of problems.

I got here as fast as I can

A good sailor doesn’t demand the wind to change. They don’t sit there and bargain with things they can’t control.

No, they adapt. They change their tactics based on the external conditions at play.

Much better and more effective to point your sail to help you get to the places you want to go.

No comfort in growing zones

Until 1998, there were only 300 research papers on positive psychology and the study of happiness.

Today, there are now over 8,500.

The problem is that positive psychology is still wrongly rooted in this idea that good emotions lead to good outcomes and that bad emotions lead to bad outcomes.

That simply isn’t true.

Life is not about the pursuit of pleasure.

You can’t feel good all the time.

It might not feel good to run mile 25 of 26 but many still do because the reward of running their first marathon far exceeds the momentary and temporary discomfort.

There is no comfort in growing zones and no growing in comfort zones.

You’re average

It is unlikely you will become the next Michael Jordan of basketball or the next Donald Bradman of cricket.

We can always find a way to measure ourselves in a way where we are average (or worse). There will always be someone who is better than you at whatever it is you decide to do.

So, why even try?

Is that the goal to be the best in the world or bust?

Sure, if you are trying to become an Olympic athlete. For the rest of us? We don’t have to be afraid of average. It’s not about the work but the story we tell ourselves and others.

It’s worth noting that Randall Munroe who runs one of the most popular blogs in the world, xkcd, uses stick figures to create his art.

And Steve Martin changed comedy with a banjo and a magic act.

The world needs more average people to step up and do more than what the measures tell them.

How to make the world a better place

It’s overwhelming to think about all the ways to fix the world.

Plug one hole and two more spring up.

Instead of thinking about, “How can I make the world a better place?”, a more effective approach would be to recognize “How am I making the world a better place?”

The work you do, it matters.

If it doesn’t then go find something more interesting to do.