Staying present is underrated

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I recently got caught up dwelling on all the bad things in the world and how fragile (and interconnected) it is.

Doing that is overwhelming.

It’s silly and I know it. Just sitting in the doctor’s office can give me that nudge to tune in on society’s problems. Some of those people are doing bad and I control not an inch of it. Feeling frustrated leads to a waste of our productive energy. Dwelling on things out of our control doesn’t fix any problems, it just gives us a new one. You and I can only can only clean up our corner. Slow and steady, one step at a time. And it’s kind of hard to do that when we’re focused on the jobs of everybody else.

We’ve been told time and time again by the philosophies of the world: don’t dwell on the past or future, stay in the present.

You offer experiences, too

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Reputation is typically built through the things that you do consistently and well. Disney primarily deals in entertainment, right? At their core, they sell dreams and work hard to keep their brand in tact with their overall vision. That’s why they fight so hard to keep Mickey Mouse. All that dreaming they do comes down to offering you a unique experience. When you think of Disney, what do you think of? How many companies can offer that same experience?

You can make an offer whether you’re aware of it or not. In some ways, you have power like Disney does. Some people don’t care about Disney at all but they might care a lot about you and what you make. To those people, you mean something. What you offer and the journey you can take them on means something. It’s a real privilege we have that we should exercise more often.

They only serve as a baseline

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Laws and rules can be great tools for us. When they’re doing their job, they keep us safe. With laws and rules also come health codes, building codes, safety codes, etc. But one flaw I believe we have in human psychology is this: when we look at the boundaries, we have a tendency to say “Good, as long as I’m not breaking that, I’m doing great.”

But that’s a relatively low expectation to set. Staying out of trouble alone isn’t good enough. We need more contributors to society.

And when we spend all of our time focused on our basic needs, we miss out on the bigger picture.

Working on yourself is always a good idea

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Sometimes making selfish choices are the right choices. There are times we think being selfless is the default right option even when being so, at unfitting times, can make us unhappy.

And emotions spread. Sometimes the greater good comes from the less marketable virtue. When we improve ourselves, we have more to give.

We need more awareness

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I spent a lot of time thinking about myself, taking walks and leaning into my problems today and I’m realizing this: if awareness precedes our mindful actions, we should seek more of it.

Ways to increase awareness: stand still, walk for the sake of walking, sit and meditate, watch others, observe yourself, take time to reflect, talk about yourself and get feedback from others, write things out, observe art, express yourself through art, read about the experiences of others, and question more. Take time for yourself, always.

We’re a social species

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We are homo sapiens and thrive off our ability to communicate thoughts and ideas. It’s how we created society. Seems to me, people who don’t communicate well in our society suffer because our society is built on communication. How have you been feeling? The doctor will ask. How will you communicate your experience to them to assist in accurately assessing your condition?

Communicating clearly extends onto social media. I wonder what this person’s Instagram looks like? What do they post on Facebook? We care. The way you communicate on those platforms matter. You don’t post on Facebook the same way you do on Twitter. Or post on Reddit the way you do on Facebook.

Your ability to pick up on etiquette on social media can determine a lot. Just like deciding what you wear today could, but more permanent. Like deciding what you’re going to talk about today, but more permanent. It’s the first time we have our own media platform to push whatever we want, you can repost memes or make your own content.

How will others see it?

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There’s a disconnect between what we say and what we do. Entrepreneurs can’t trust their friends or family who say they’d buy their product or use their service. Why? Because their friends will tell them what they want to hear! Anything else is too risky. They just aren’t in the business of telling you the truth and having you think differently of them for it.

They will readily say “I’d totally buy that!” without considering their finances, too. And if they do buy from them, it’s within the context of supporting a friend.

Businesses are constantly seeking to reach more customers/clients. Will those people see the product or service as necessary as you – a friend or family member – would? Or are they only selling to friends and family members?

To be vulnerable or not

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One of my challenges is striving to care more while at the same time, not forcing a less than true attitude towards stuff. Positive or negative.

The world is constantly telling us not to be who we are, feel what we do, or express ourselves. That it’s dangerous to be ourselves. I mean, look at the media and the way they take shots at Kanye. It’s open season. Without knowing any details, we can all join in on the hate train on Facebook and many of our friends will join us. Watch an interview with him and then read the headlines and news pieces. There’s a disconnect. The far majority of the time, it would seem he’s only expressing his opinions and experiences – most of which are far from controversial. He’s choosing to be vulnerable and getting a lot of push back and name calling in the name of entertainment. Doesn’t that send a message to us too?

We almost always have this choice: we can be as vulnerable and honest as we want or, not at all. Not expressing ourselves can come with a cost, too. It’s a tremendous responsibility we have everyday. Probably best we give it some thought.

Gall’s Law and art

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My belief is that the voice of dissatisfaction we hear when something could be better has far more potential than we give credit. It causes me to make improvements to a project because I know it can be better.

There are times where we shouldn’t listen to that voice of dissatisfaction, too. It can stop us from putting out any of our work. I’m working on that part, it’s important to not let my perfectionism get the best of me. It’s part of the reason I post on my blog often: to form opinions, publish them openly, and do it regularly enough that I won’t get too obsessed about whether they’re perfect or not. Seth Godin suggested it and he leads by example.

Hate to sound apathetic but you won’t even get me on the record saying that posting everyday for me is a forever thing. It’s like an experiment, one that I figure can’t cost me much but is a cool enough of an idea to me that I’ll just keep doing it for awhile.

After all, the way we get *really* good is actually a result of slow and small changes. It’s true no matter how good we’ve gotten, with very few exceptions. Have you ever heard of Gall’s law? First read about it in The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman.

“A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. The inverse proposition also appears to be true: a complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be made to work. You have to start over, beginning with a simple system.”

John Gall, systems theorist

Read about it in a business context but now, isn’t that how artists get good too? Try to make something too complicated starting out, it won’t come out good. Seasoned veterans can make a well respected, intricate piece of work many times over. They understand the nuances of their craft because they all started small and practical. And if we want to join them, so will we.

Awareness comes first

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I think all meaningful change is first preceded by awareness and acceptance.

People who aren’t aware of a problem seldom strive to fix it. It’s there, they just haven’t noticed. They could also be aware of a problem but not come to terms with accepting it. Usually, they won’t fix the problem because accepting it means something inconvenient to them.

We have to be aware and accept these often subtle problems the world brings us so we can move on, make change, and make life easier for ourselves and others.