We worry so much about falling on our bike that we do everything we can to avoid it.

And then eventually we fall…

It hurts. We get back up. Brush off. And get back on.

It isn’t just scraped knees we worry about either. We worry about our golf swing in front of the boss. We worry about giving a presentation in front of the class.

We desperately avoid shining so brightly that we will trade almost anything stay hidden in the shadows.

Once we fail, what else is there to worry about? If this is the worst that can happen, what story can we tell ourselves from here?

What light do you see yourself in?

“I’m not a leader.”

But can you conduct this meeting? Lead the office while the boss is gone? Can you watch a five-year old for an hour?

“I’m not creative.”

But have you ever told a funny joke? Made a nice dinner? Have you written one sentence that was worth reading?

Of course you can. Of course you have.

What we are really saying is, “I don’t want someone see me make a mistake.”

We have created a culture where we think it’s dangerous to stand up, stand out and make a difference. It has never been easier for someone to shine brighter but the tragedy is we will do anything to stay hidden.

How many people can you name in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Can you name 20? 50?

There are 338 inductees.

These were the people voted best in history at their craft.

And yet, most of us don’t even remember them.

The big lie that Instagram sells us is that with a few clicks, maybe you can become famous too. But being famous isn’t the goal. The goal is to matter. The goal is to make a difference. And if we are lucky, we get to do it again.

Being popular is not the same as important.

Mix and matching

You can’t fly a kite without wind.

And you can’t write without a pencil.

You have to mix and match elements to make art.

This isn’t stealing.

You are borrowing what’s around to make something new.

What good would it be to have the only fax machine in the world?

Ideas are made to spread.

Seeking joy

Have you heard the one about the fisherman and the businessman?

The way it goes is the businessman asks, “How long does it take to catch the fish you need for the day?”

The fisherman replies, “Not long.”

Businessman asks, “Why don’t you stay out longer to catch more?”

The fisherman, “I only catch what me and my family need for the day. The rest of the time is spent hanging out, playing with my kids, reading books, taking naps…”

The business man goes on to list all of his credentials and how he could help this fisherman grow his enterprise. That if he could spend more time on the water eventually he could save enough to buy a bigger boat to catch more fish. Then you could buy more boats and then set up an office to manage it.

The fisherman then asks, “Then what?”

The businessman, “You can retire and spend time with your family.”

The fisherman, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”

Marshall Sahlins argued that the typical hunter gather only worked three to five hours per day. So different from what we imagine. What did they do with the rest of their time?

They spent the time doing everything we dream about doing.

The answer isn’t always bigger or more but just enough. You can choose what to maximize. Most of us choose money because it is easy to measure. You could choose other metrics.

US satisfaction is at 13%. Not surprising with the year we have been through. However, Pew Research survey asked about the secret to happiness, most Americans, of all ages, ranked “a job or career they enjoy” above marriage, children, or any other committed relationship.

Perhaps, we need to reexamine what makes us happy. Because once we can redefine joy, we will see it is abundant.

Mediocre work

Your idea is worth writing down. It deserves that much. After that, most ideas go away in a drawer never to see the light of day.

Some of your ideas will be good enough to turn into a project. However, you can’t make the project perfect before you ship it. Impossible. Otherwise, JK Rowling would still be working on the first Harry Potter.

We turn ideas into something mediocre at first. Continue to polish it until it is good enough to change the emotion of the audience.

Artists that progress will always be critical of their previous work. Most of the work from yesterday will be seen as mediocre compared to what they can do today. Even their best work they know could have been made better.

You might be very skilled at what it is you do. Evaluating and understanding when your work is good enough to be shipped might not be a skill that you have developed yet.

The hits are always a surprise. Do your best and ship it. Repeat.

“Find your passion”

We say this a lot to people who are lost or stuck. But “finding your passion” points to nowhere and does little in helping someone looking for directions.

You are going to be looking for a long time if you are waiting for the perfect spouse or dream job. (Would the perfect person go out with you? Would the perfect job hire you?)

Last I checked, your knight in shining armor isn’t going to ride in on a horse. The damsel in distress isn’t locked in a tower waiting to be rescued. And your dream job still has deadlines and customers you have to deal with.

These are fantasies. Stories we create of unrealistic expectations.

Sure, you might win the lottery. Some people do get hit by lightning too. But the tooth fairy isn’t real. The alternative path is this:

Instead of looking for your passion, become a passionate person.

Why don’t you become passionate about the person you are already with? Why not become passionate about the job you do have?

You’ve been in love once, you can do it again.

Familiar territory

Spotify allows us to go anywhere we want. To discover any piece of music at any time. There is more in the library than anyone of us can listen to in a lifetime.

Yet, where do we choose to go?

Albums that we grew up with. Top 40 hits. Familiar territory.

There’s also a new Godzilla vs. Kong movie coming out soon. It will be the 33rd movie featuring Godzilla.

The question is, Does the world really need another Godzilla movie?

Nope. It’s summer and so Execs are looking to choose something familiar.

Godzilla from 1954-2014

Familiar territory is safe and reliable. We know what we are getting when we order from Little Cesars. We know what we are getting with the next Marvel movie.

In an unpredictable world, we find comfort in knowing what happens next. (Even if we don’t like what happens next.)


There is always another email and another tweet to read. The inbound is never ending. The question is, When is the last time you sat with your own thoughts? When we read or hear something that flips the lights on, how long do you just sit with that moment of connection before you scroll to the next thing?

We have a bad habit of wanting to be constantly entertained. When we are sitting in silence on the road, we reach for the radio. When we are sitting in the waiting room, we reach for a magazine. It’s human nature. Silence brings tension. Partially because we are uncomfortable with our own thought patterns. Perhaps we just don’t like the feeling of being bored. Of course, that feeling of lacking interest doesn’t last forever. Eventually, your mind begins to wander and imagine possibility. (There is a reason why good ideas come while in the shower.)

When is the last time you left your phone at home just to see what happens? I’m 34 and it was only 20 years ago where it was that teens didn’t have access to the internet all the time. Most teens today are shocked to learn that phone companies used to charge us for every text we sent. A lot has changed.

I’m not sure what the frequency of “Aha” moments occur. But I do know the more present we are, the more likely you will be struck by lightning.