The hole we are in

Let’s be clear:

The hole we are in is not too deep to climb out of.

Doesn’t matter if we are talking about relationships that we believe are beyond repair or climate change or what the 24-hour dooms day news cycle says…we can climb out of this.

The problem is our desire to climb out of it.

Because each of us has a story. A story of fear, anxiety, lowered expectations, the avoidance of failure.

After a while we believe it. That this is as good as it gets. “It’s really scary out there. Don’t risk making things worst.”

It’s a choice to stay put. Another to move forward. Simply taking action is enough of an antidote to change our narrative.

What we do is who we are.

How to become a creative person

Deep down everyone wants to paint a picture.

And that is what Bob Ross taught us for 31 seasons. That with some guidance and practice, anyone can paint a picture and become an artist.

Yet…

It’s believed that 90% of those that tuned in to watch The Joy of Painting never actually picked up a paintbrush.

It’s difficult to change our narrative about being a creative person. It has been drilled in us for so long to color within the lines.

The way to be creative is simply to do creative things. That’s it. And when you commit to this practice every day, you can’t claim you are not creative anymore.

Action is a force in changing our narrative.

[Check out all 31 seasons of The Joy of Painting for free on YouTube.]

To scale

In order to understand something that is large at scale, we have to compare it to something familiar. The same goes for something where the distance is far away or imagining what the world will look like in the future.

We need concrete examples but our brain can’t process the scale.

Scale is only as good as our comparison.

That’s why they say a death is a tragedy and a massacre is a statistic.

The truth is not only our scope of comparison off but we also amplify our feelings to be larger than life.

It feels like the end of the world when our heart breaks but it isn’t actually the end of the world. If we haven’t experienced heartbreak before, what we are missing is something to compare it to.

Think about it.

Expectations

We are quick to make excuses of why something won’t work.

I can’t climb that.

I can’t build that.

I don’t have the education/experience/time/money…

I need reassurance that everything is going to be okay.

Of course, not everything is going to be okay.

Reassurance isn’t enough.

Resources are not enough either.

Many great companies started in a garage.

What we need is the guts to say Yes.

When we set the bar, we are also setting the ceiling.

The ceiling is the expectation and from there a self-fulfilling prophecy begins.

Pick a narrative, any narrative

Parent about their teen: “They just don’t ___________.”

Insert: Listen, try, care…you get the picture.

Teenagers struggle in these skills because they simply haven’t had the practice. It isn’t their fault either, they haven’t been on this earth long enough to see why it’s important to listen/try/care.

The funny thing is, we don’t get upset when it takes a toddler a little longer than “average” to learn how to walk, we know and understand (Have faith?) that they will eventually do it.

So why are we disappointed when a teenager is taking longer to develop an adult skill?

I think there are a lot of reasons. We feel inadequate as parents and their performance amplifies our shame. We desperately want to fit in with the people around us. Status roles.

But the main problem is these labels are not teaching our teens to get better in an area of weakness. Instead it is doing two things:

  1. We are conditioning our teens to ignore us.
  2. And because we have labeled them as deficient in this area, we begin to notice that one behavior more often than we should.

Simple example of this is, Utah is “famous” for its bad drivers. So when someone swerves in our lane, we notice. Yet, no one notices the good drivers. No one says, “Wow, look how that driver made that left turn. That was text book.”

We get to choose what we want to notice about people.

Pick any area of weakness and you can create a story to fit your narrative. And now you have a self full-filling prophecy.

Marching to your own beat

For a long time, human beings survived by sticking together in small tribes. You had to fit in because you simply had no where else to go.

That feeling continues today.

Don’t be weird, it might get posted on social media. Don’t speak out, you might get fired. Follow the instructions. Blend in.

Different isn’t wrong. Different is different.

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” – Henry David Thoreau

Imagination

Many people assume that when you set time aside for something that it has to be productive.

Productive time is a good thing. We should be productive with our time.

I also think we don’t put enough time aside to think. A time to turn off all the inputs including email, social media, Netflix and just be. Time to be with our own thoughts. To imagine and reflect.

It’s in these quiet moments when the biggest breakthroughs happen.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

Lessons learned from my first podcast

“Every passing moment is a chance to turn it all around.”

That’s my favorite quote. The other week, I was asked on a podcast to share why.

My story, like yours, has ups and downs. In the middle of the most difficult time of my life I came across this quote and it really helped me.

By design, I don’t share personal details about my life in public. This interviewer unprofessionally pushed for me to divulge. Which I declined and explained:

One of the most important vocations anyone can take up is teacher. I consider myself a teacher with Pivot Adventure. As a teacher, I don’t use my own personal story by choice because I don’t want to convey a message to our students that “I did it so can you.” Instead, we want students to write their own stories. (Note: some professionals use their story and that is okay but there is certainly an art to it and it never a go to in my experience.)

Everyone is a hero in their own story. And what we need is a guide. Someone to help us point us in the right direction on our journey to victory. At Pivot Adventure, we are guides for a reason.

I also explained how I am not a guru. That we want to build something bigger than ourselves and in order to do so that students don’t have to meet me for it to work.

This person went on to chastise me about how I was making a fatal mistake not sharing the deepest, darkest part of my life. Sadly, the interview won’t be airing. Clearly, I triggered something in this person and we wasted a great 24 minutes because she was stuck on our approach. As frustrating as it was, I did walk away with some lessons learned. I am reminded:

Vulnerability is about taking risks, facing uncertainty and emotional exposure. Like giving a presentation or entering a singing contest or introducing yourself to someone you are attracted to (or going on a podcast for that matter). It doesn’t mean sharing the most depressing part of your story. It might be. And you do need to share it with someone. But settings matter. There is a reason why we don’t tell someone you love them on the first date. Because vulnerability is about connection, it is about taking a leap of faith and hoping the person that is listening will catch you.

Another important note: Professionals in the mental health sphere don’t need to share their personal stories to in order to do great work. When I hire a plumber I don’t need them to tell me their life story of how they got here. I need them to unclog the drain. The same goes for mental health professionals or teachers. The good ones know how to separate their personal and professional life. That doesn’t mean you don’t ever share anything about yourself. Of course, you do. It does mean that if you are going to really difference, you better know how to be able to walk with someone rather than in their shoes. Sympathy and empathy are not the same thing.

The Fosbury Flop

In high school, Dick Fosbury began to experiment with different types of high jump techniques over the bar.

The conventional style at the time was to use a straddle method, where you get one leg over the bar followed by the other.

Eventually, with the introduction of foam pads (instead of sand, sawdust or wood chips), Fosbury started using the unorthodox method of jumping over the bar backwards, headfirst and finishing by kicking his legs in the air.

The Fosbury Flop got its name when reporters grabbed a picture of him jumping over the bar and captioned it as “Fosbury Flops Over the Bar.” His flop later gave him the label “the world’s laziest high jumper.”

With some promising results though he kept at it. Perfecting the jump in college until he reached the big stage, the 1968 Olympics.

The Fosbury Flop didn’t gain the acceptance from the community until after he took gold. But since that 1968 Olympic run, every gold medalist has used the Fosbury Flop.

Weird? Or just different?

Bending the status quo, the way things are done, is always met with resistance. Our brains are literally trained to find inconsistencies. Which makes it easy to fear what we don’t understand.

Different doesn’t make us weird. Next time someone makes fun of your style, remember different is what changes the world.