Man’s…and Woman’s Search for Meaning…

Simon Sinek says, “Start with Why.”

Most people will strive to do their best if directed properly. Most people want to do a good job.

We often hear about “Millenials being lazy” or “Gen X’ers don’t care”, or some variation thereto. All excuses. What we often forget is that beyond the paycheck, we want to have meaning to our work. We want to know that what we do makes a difference.

So…what do we do when that meaning isn’t clear? What do we do when we don’t know Why?

1. Dare to Ask. If it’s out there, someone knows. Go and discover it.

If no one knows,

2. Dare to Define it. If someone can’t articulate the importance, figure it out and share what you’ve come to understand. At least give it a shot.

If it’s still unclear,

3. Dare to Create It. If for no one else, find the meaning in what you’re doing for yourself. If it’s the case that it can’t be created from where you are, go find out where you can create it from scratch.

A good leader can articulate her story. She can tell you why you should follow her. She is able to paint the picture of not only Why, but How it is that you are a part of it.

We all want to ascribe meaning to what we do. If we strive to care just a little more, we can either Ask for it, Define it, or go and Create it ourselves.

What we do matters. What you do matters.

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Through the Center…

Most everyone who practices a traditional Asian martial art remembers learning his or her first form, Basic Form 1.  It usually has some variations between styles, but typically created a basic “I” pattern.  As simple as it may seem from afar, the transitional motions, combined with the stances, steps, and technique can be quite difficult to learn at first.  The coordination required for the simplest movements is often much more than one might initially think. 

While working with a new white belt this evening, I discovered a new way to better explain how to remember which way to pivot for the turns.  Before, we might say “left hand do this” or “right hand do this”, “look left” or “back hand do that”.  I found that having the student remember to focus on the area as a whole and go through the center, it became much more natural to remember in which direction the next turn would be. Being aware of the whole area while focusing on the center. 

This might be a good lesson for just about any other area of life, too.  Be aware of the whole and focus on going through the center. 

The first cut you learn in sword is the center cut.

The part of the road on which you need to focus to drive is the center.

In meditation and yoga, it’s always about finding your center.

In business, the peripheral activities are nice-to-haves, but you have to find the primary goal, manage the critical path, and go through the center. 

There are likely many other, even better, examples. What are some of yours? Especially in a world that moves so quickly and is full of distractions and zig-zags, do we make it a point to focus on the center of our wide circle? 

How are you mindful of the whole and make it through to your center?

Getting…Growing Older…

Response to:  https://qz.com/670483/dont-be-anxious-about-the-arc-of-your-future-what-i-wish-id-known-at-30/?utm_source=atlfb

In a nutshell, the real truth is that live constantly evolves. For me, it’s been impossible to predict and even less, improbable for which to plan. If I went back in time and tried to convince myself at 21 what it might look like at almost 34, I would’ve laughed at me. There’s nothing wrong in chasing what you want, so long as it’s a virtuous pursuit and there’s nothing better than winning it, so long as it was won righteously. God will take you to where you need to be, at every moment, ourselves realizing not why or how at that time. Life will kick is in the <wherever> when least expected. It will also bring us to fly farther and higher than we could have imagined. As time moves, you move. It’s still you, just different. We’re here, after all, to experience, learn, and live. The understanding comes with time, as does wisdom we can’t expect to ascertain.  Though we can say that people throughout time have likely been “here” before, and that every circumstance has like likely been experienced by someone, some time, somehow before, it’s still the case that our own existence and experience is and will be like none ever before or ever again.  Things change, and even those of us that are perpetual planners who can play out entire timelines, nothing will prepare us for what’s in store, who we will become, or what we will come to understand.  Growing older may be the biology, but growing in all the unexpected directions is the spirtituality we can’t predict. 

Warmth for Today’s Cold…

Winter in Columbus varies quite a bit, but when it’s cold…it’s cold.

The other morning, as I got into my car and started driving to work, I complained (to no one in particular) that it was cold and how I really needed to get a car that has remote start. The leather was cold and the seat heaters were slow to warm up, so I thought about a car that had both remote start and would know to pre-heat the seats. Shivering, I thought,  “Geez, it’s cold!”

Hold on.

“Stop it.” Now, talking to myself. “You are being a fool.

At least you have leather seats that need heating…

You have seat heaters in your car…

You have a car that you’re driving…

     …to a job that you have.

You just came out of a warm home…

    …that is yours and well-heated. 

You could be waiting for the bus…or walking to work…

…or maybe you don’t have a job at all…

…and you can’t afford to heat your house…

…or maybe you have no home at all. 

We so often forget what we have, not realizing that the cold we recognize so quickly is because of the warmth we know well and take for granted. 

Shawn Achor and other researchers tell us that gratitude is a critical part of happiness and well-being.  Without knowing it, in an instant, I wasn’t so cold anymore.

With so much craziness in the world, with the quest for success, the loneliness that comes with a culture that focuses on individualism and with happiness always seemingly just beyond reach, we must remember to practice gratitude, acknowledge what we have, and do what we can to help others. 
The world today can be a cold place, but we have the power bring it warmth…through our own lives, in our attitudes, and the way we interact with each other.

Warmth must be something we practice…something that burns by choice, in our hearts, our minds, and in our spirit. 

Yesterday…

Yesterday is a day gone past. 

Yes, we should look upon our memories of the former with fondness, taking forward our lessons learned and the joys of our experience.

But today is when we must live and prove to ourselves and the world that we are not living only by resting on the successes of the days before. 

So what if you are “supposed” to be somebody or somewhere? So what if you are called “black belt” or “champion”? No one says who you are today has to be limited or set by what you did yesterday. 

Greatness isn’t a “won-in-one” game, it’s an ever-to-be-earned series of battles.  Because we won yesterday does not guarantee us a win today. Because we won today does not mean that we will certainly win tomorrow. 

Lest we forget: we are all students, always. 

Yesterday is to be cherished.  

Every Today is another day we must continue to strive to win again and again.

Take My Breath Away…

Breathing. 

We are so very bad at this. The moments go so quickly that we seem to plan our next breath whilst forgetting to breathe along the way. Too often, we use up our breath to yell, complain, blame, chastise, obfuscate, speak ill, and even to fill the few spaces between the sounds. 

At practice tonight, one of the other black belts was working through some movements and came to realize how tense all of his moves had become. Every movement was a force of strength throughout the whole motion. 

Asking to hear his breath through the move, it was clear that the very sound of each breath accompanying each move was forced. Taking on a my suggestion to control the speed and precision of his breath, he tried it differently and became less tense and observed his movements as having improved with better speed, fluidity, and control. We spoke for a few minutes about how different it was one way versus the next.

I, too, forget this very lesson – pretty much on a daily basis – to use breath in the way it was intended: to control, to ease, to form graceful and intentional movements, both physical and mental, in order to manage the self and surrounding circumstances with finesse and calm. 

One day, near the end,  we will be searching for those extra few breaths to say those things that really matter, or have them to listen and simply be for a few moments more. 

Use every breath wisely and intently.

Response to ‘Whatever you do, don’t quit your job to pursue your passion’

Commenters can be such critics. A response to those that scoffed Janelle Quibuyen’s article in Quartz, talking about the realities around working for yourself. 

It seems the intent of this piece is to lend perspective to the flippant message that pervades American society, especially in the younger generations, that if you aren’t entrepreneurial and trying to figure out how to do your own thing, you’re giving up and your success in context of other kinds of work is not meaningful. As a Gen-Y’er myself (now lumped into the Millenials categorization), we’re pounded with “lifestyle design” messages that suggest you can only eat your cake if you’re one of “them”: the hyper-successful, works all day and night, hustlers that refuse to work for “the man”. In contrast, it would seem more prudent to believe – and behave – in a way that allows for all manners of personal success and enjoyment regardless of a label to your work. There exists all manner of work: day jobs, volunteering, community involvement, mentoring, teaching, social organizations, memberships, and so on. No one says you have to be defined by just one of these things. Instead, make it a point both to pursue your passions and be able to fund them. There’s nothing wrong with having a day job that pays for your outside of work work. Inasmuch, there’s nothing wrong with focusing your attention to a passion area as your day job if that’s what you want and have the capability and capacity to perform as your main work. Try it all on for size, and keep working at it. Prune away the nonessential and take in all the things that matter to you as you are able. If society is wrong about anything in today’s world, it’s the idea that life can only be and should only be lived one way or another. This is the biggest fallacy of all. Rather, choose to live intently and do what’s right for you with passion, authenticity, and mindfulness. There are many paths and every person is responsible for his or her own destiny.