How to really use a blender

What do you get when you combine magic tricks, a banjo and stand up comedy?

You get Steve Martin.

His act was so unusual. So fresh and different. Carefully crafted over the years. Little by little.

It took decades for the audience to get the joke. But it all paid off, eventually. At the height of his popularity, Steve Martin was selling out stadiums.

Too often, I am hearing too many people say that they feel locked in to their job and that they don’t have the skills or education or experience to do something else.

Really? If Steve Martin could break comedy with a banjo, maybe it is time to reevaluate our stance.

You have talents you are born with and skills that continue to grow. Take three things you are good at or enjoy doing, throw it in a blender, and go do something with it.

You can do so much more with what you got if you just start.

Waiting is a mistake, not a strategy

We spend far too much waiting.

Waiting for the right opportunity.

Waiting for a step-by-step set of instructions.

Waiting to be told what to do next.

Waiting for the timing to be perfect.

Waiting for the perfect project.

This isn’t a strategy, it’s another form of hiding.

If you are waiting for all your ducks to be in a row, you are going to wait for a very long time.

Take the duck you have and go make something out of it.

Go.

Do.

Do!

Different people tell different stories

The person who is willing to spend $140,000 for a Tesla or $3,000 for a bottle of wine is telling a different story than someone living on $2 per day.

The person living on $2 per day is terrified to go shopping. One mistake means someone at home goes hungry. The smart decision then, is to buy the same things that have worked for previous generations.

Different people tell different stories about luxury and utility. About taste and placebos. About status. About fear.

If you are trying to make things better than you have to match the story that people tell themselves (and what they tell others).

The list

For 187 weeks, Eat, Pray, Love remained on The New York Time’s best seller list, sold over 100 million copies which put Elizabeth Gilbert on the map. She became a mega star. Later that book became a movie starring Julie Roberts.

Gilbert’s follow-up book, Committed, spent 57 weeks #1 on The New York Time’s best seller list.

Incredible, but…

But it wasn’t on as long as her previous work.

Her most recent work, Big Magic, spent even less time on the list.

So, what is going on here? Is Gilbert’s work getting worse? Could it be that here best work is already behind her, that she will never achieve anything as great as Eat, Pray, Love?

While it is possible that none of her work will ever be as popular as Eat, Pray, Love, I think that her best work is still yet to be done.

Because popular is not the same as important. Taking a position that isn’t popular is how you make change happen. Changing a small group of people, making them better is how you bend the culture.

We spend far too much time thinking about writing the next Eat, Pray, Love instead of writing something that is going to touch someone. We spend too much time thinking about what will someone think about our work, rather than working for the one.

There is no way that The New York Time’s editors has the capacity to read every book in the world. It is just a list that someone made up. Often, rigged by publishers just to get their author noticed.

Forget the list. The list brings nothing but heart ache. It’s a trap for comparison. It invites Resistance.

Write (or compose or paint or market or lead) with purpose. Write because you must.

“What should I do next?”

Far too often, we sit back and wait to be given a simple set of instructions on what to do next.

We wait for inspiration or to be in the mood before we will take the next step. We wait for reassurance. We wait on the couch or on the bench or for our number to be called before we will get going.

Worse, we are training a whole generation to follow the map. Graduate, go to college, get a job…and then what?

Life is much better when you don’t wait around for things to happen to you. You can’t prepare for life by waiting for the next things to come. Getting “prepared” is another form of hiding.

Either you are actively engaged in the world or the world is actively engaging on you.

We wait for the light to shine before we step into the dark. But that is not how a life you deserve works. Learn to step into the dark, and then, the light follows.

How much capacity for love?

We know what love looks like. The problem is, we can’t figure out a way to measure it. We can’t put it on a spreadsheet or on a scale. (Which is why nurses and teachers have historically been underpaid.) No one can tell us whether love had a good year or a bad one.

If you can’t measure it, it makes it really difficult to improve it.

So if there is no real way to measure love, is it a finite resource? Can we only carry so much of it? Is it possible to love everyone?

Perhaps, we could love our enemies, our friends, our families, the un-lovable…just a little bit more. Perhaps, in most cases, each of us has a greater capacity to love than what we carry around. Perhaps then, love is a posture.

Think of it this way: Have you ever heard someone say that their capacity to love is full?

Me neither.

Is this me thinking?

Describe why do you love your partner?

Because she’s smart, funny, attractive…well there are lots of people who are smart, funny, attractive. You love someone because of how they make you feel. Difficult to explain because these are chemicals in our brain with no capacity for language that are causing this. So, the best we come up with is, she’s got a great smile.

The flip side of this: If you are stuck in a downward spiral, where discursive thoughts are replaying over and over again, its helpful to understand where these thoughts are coming from. Again, all of this cruft is internal dialogue that is busy interpreting chemicals in the brain.

Too often, we sit there trying to make sense of these thoughts that just pop in, or worse, we try to bargain with it.

This narrative often gets in the way from being the person we are trying to be. We can save a lot of time and energy by viewing these thoughts as clouds passing over us instead of trying to change them.