In research for my book Evolve!, I identified three primary sources of motivation in high-innovation companies: mastery, membership, and meaning. Another M, money, turned out to be a distant fourth. Money acted as a scorecard, but it did not get people up-and-at ‘em for the daily work, nor did it help people go home every day with a feeling of fulfillment.Rosabeth Moss Kanter - Harvard Business Review
To make others less happy is a crime.I do not fear death - Roger Ebert
The dark side of creating
That feeling when self doubt starts to kick in and you ask yourself if you’re crazy.
“Am I crazy?”
Anyone who’s ever created must have come here at least once. If not hundreds of times.
The struggle with the thing you’re trying to solve, create, express wraps you in a thin film that dulls the world around you.
It affects your ability to enjoy, to fully take in your present experience. It’s not just active while working. It seems to find a way to wrap you even while taking breaks.
“Am I lost. How lost am I?”
Lean into it. Breath into it.
It’s an almost inexplicable feeling that in a way nods to your current state of consciousness. Being alive. You can only be here if you are alive.
“Is it really this hard or is there something wrong with me?”
I’m here right now so I thought I’d try and capture it.
Clippings: Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
[ Read: Dec 2012 | Review: 3/3 | Link ]
# On Humanity
“My dear, I used to think I was serving humanity … and I pleasured in the thought. Then I discovered that humanity does not want to be served; on the contrary it resents any attempt to serve it.”
Human bipolarity was both binding force and driving energy for all human behavior, from sonnets to nuclear equations. If any being thinks that human psychologists exaggerated this, let it search Terran patent offices, libraries, and art galleries for creations of eunuchs.
Harshaw conceded that man, a social animal, could not avoid government, any more than an individual could escape bondage to his bowels. But simply because an evil was inescapable was no reason to term it “good.”
Harshaw had the arrogant humility of a man who has learned so much that he is aware of his own ignorance.
“Remind me,” Jubal told her, “to write an article on the compulsive reading of news. The theme will be that most neuroses can be traced to the unhealthy habit of wallowing in the troubles of five billion strangers. Title is ‘Gossip Unlimited’—no, make that ‘Gossip Gone Wild.’ ”
He had discovered that long human words rarely changed their meanings but short words were slippery, changing without pattern. Or so he seemed to grok. Short human words were like trying to lift water with a knife.
The capacity of humans to believe in what seems to me highly improbable—from table tapping to the superiority of their children—has never been plumbed.
The concept of ‘altruism’ is the worst. People do what they want to, every time. If it pains them to make a choice—if the choice looks like a ‘sacrifice’—you can be sure that it is no nobler than the discomfort caused by greediness … the necessity of deciding between two things you want when you can’t have both. The ordinary bloke suffers every time he chooses between spending a buck on beer or tucking it away for his kids, between getting up to go to work or losing his job. But he always chooses what hurts least or pleasures most. The scoundrel and the saint make the same choices on a larger scale. As Digby does. Saint or scoundrel, he’s not one of the harried chumps.”
“Age does not bring wisdom, Ben, but it does give perspective … and the saddest sight of all is to see, far behind you, temptations you’ve resisted.”
“The nature of life, how ego hooks into the body, the problem of ego itself and why each ego seems to be the center of the universe, the purpose of life, the purpose of the universe—these are paramount questions, Ben; they can never be trivial. Science hasn’t solved them—and who am I to sneer at religions for trying, no matter how unconvincingly to me?”
“…understanding who you are, why you’re here, how you tick—and behaving accordingly.”
“We humans have to make considerable progress before we can accept a free gift, and value it. I never let them have anything free until Sixth Circle. By then they can accept … and accepting is much harder than giving.”
“… goodness alone is never enough. A hard, cold wisdom is required for goodness to accomplish good. Goodness without wisdom always accomplishes evil.”
“You can’t refuse it. Thou art God and I am God and all that groks is God, and I am all that I have ever been or seen or felt or experienced. I am all that I grok.”
“…here babies do not compete but adults do; on Mars adults never compete, they’ve been weeded out as babies. But one way or another, competing and weeding takes place … or a race goes downhill.”
“The notion that the effort has to be their own … and that the trouble they are in is all their own doing … is one that they can’t or won’t entertain.”
“… a poor portrayal is as effective as a good one for most people.”
“Any male virile enough to sire a child has coveted many women, whether he acts or not.”
“If Mike had given them something big—like stereo, or bingo—but he gave them the Truth. Or a piece of the Truth. And who is interested in Truth?”
“How can a teacher handle a child who knows more than she does? What becomes of physicians when people are healthy? What happens to the cloak and suit industry when clothing isn’t necessary and women aren’t so engrossed in dressing up (they’ll never lose interest entirely)—and nobody gives a damn if he’s caught with his arse bare? What shape does ‘the Farm Problem’ take when weeds can be told not to grow and crops can be harvested without benefit of International Harvester? Just name it; the discipline changes it beyond recognition.”
# On Love and Happiness
“You can’t sell love and you can’t buy Happiness, no price tags on either…”
“Happiness is functioning the way a being is organized to function … but the words in English are a tautology, empty. “
“Male-femaleness is the greatest gift we have—romantic physical love may be unique to this planet. If it is, the universe is a poorer place than it could be … and I grok dimly that we-who-are-God will save this precious invention and spread it. The joining of bodies with merging of souls in shared ecstasy, giving, receiving, delighting in each other—well, there’s nothing on Mars to touch it, and it’s the source, I grok in fullness, of all that makes this planet so rich and wonderful.
[…] That’s what sexual union should be. But that’s what I slowly grokked it rarely was. Instead it was indifference and acts mechanically performed and rape and seduction as a game no better than roulette but less honest and prostitution and celibacy by choice and by no choice and fear and guilt and hatred and violence and children brought up to think that sex was ‘bad’ and ‘shameful’ and ‘animal’ and something to be hidden and always distrusted. This lovely perfect thing, male-femaleness, turned upside down and inside out and made horrible.
[…] And every one of those wrong things is a corollary of ‘jealousy.’”
“‘Love’ is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”
“Babies give meaning to the future, and that is a great goodness. But only three or four or a dozen times in a woman’s life is a baby quickened in her … out of thousands of times she can share herself—and that is the primary use for what we can do so often but would need to do so seldom if it were only for reproduction. It is sharing and growing closer, forever and always.”
# On Wealth
“Big money isn’t hard to come by. All it costs is a lifetime of devotion. But no ballerina ever works harder. Captain, that’s not your style; you don’t want to make money, you simply want to spend money.”
“Correct, sir! So I can’t see why you would want to take Mike’s wealth away from him.”
“Because great wealth is a curse—unless you enjoy money-making for its own sake. Even then it has serious drawbacks.”
“Captain, you don’t know what an Old Man of the Sea great wealth is. Its owner is beset on every side, like beggars in Bombay, each demanding that he invest or give away part of his wealth. He becomes suspicious—honest friendship is rarely offered him; those who could have been friends are too fastidious to be jostled by beggars, too proud to risk being mistaken for one.”
“Worse yet, his family is always in danger. Captain, have your daughters ever been threatened with kidnapping?”
“If you possessed the wealth Mike had thrust on him, you would have those girls guarded night and day—still you would not rest, because you would never be sure of the guards. Look at the last hundred or so kidnappings and note how many involved a trusted employee … and how few victims escaped alive. Is there anything money can buy which is worth having your daughters’ necks in a noose?”
‘Gratitude’ is a euphemism for resentment.
Analogy is even slipperier than logic.
“The only religious opinion I feel sure of is this: self-awareness is not just a bunch of amino acids bumping together!”
“There’s always a difference! This is between ‘bad’ and ‘worse’—which is much sharper than between ‘good’ and ‘better.’ ”
He had more than his share of that streak of anarchy which was the birthright of every American; pitting himself against the planetary government filled him with sharper zest than he had felt in a generation.
… he saw no point in “measurements” when he did not know what he was measuring.
It was a family picnic, made easy by Jubal’s informality, plus the fact that the newcomers were the same sort—each learned, acclaimed, and with no need to strive.
Vanity is definitely my favorite sin
It’s become standard operating procedure of the 21st century.
It surrounds us and constantly asks us to take part in it’s joyful pursuit. Every time you get a like on that status message or photo the vanity loop is reinforced.
We’ve scaled the shit out of participation in other peoples and creation of our own vanity.
Just because it’s happening doesn’t mean it’s ok. Just because we’ve built systems that enable it to happen so effortlessly doesn’t mean it should occupy so many social updates.
We live in a world where our ability to show other people how great of a time we are having is easier than actually having a great time.
Why does it matter that so many people know you are having this experience right now?
Just because your 700 friends and 200 followers didn’t see it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
Your experiences don’t exist to help others know how to treat you. Your experiences exist so you can figure out who you are and how you want other people to treat you.
By sharing your moment with others who are not present you’re diluting your moment and robbing yourself of it’s full experience.
I write this as someone who constantly struggles with the desire to share my experience with other people. I now consciously check-in and ask myself ‘Why?’ in order to make sure there’s a reason greater than vanity.
Live for the moment not for the moment other people think you’re having. You’ll never get it back.
There are two types of people: One strives to control his environment, the other strives not to let his environment control him. I like to control my environment, because I feel if I have my physical space in order, then I’m free to dream. So there is some compulsion involved. But the dividend I get is the freedom to be totally disorderly in my dreamworld.George Carlin
Learning to breath
A little over 2 weeks ago I found myself unable to fall asleep.
Energized by my new project I was busting with excitement, ideas and possibilities. It felt great, mostly, except until I went to bed.
On this particular night I found myself completely incapable of escaping this world and entering the dream world. Even if I ‘feel asleep’ when I woke an hour or two later it felt like I never slept at all.
That feeling of following your mind to the point you think is the entry way to sleep and then not tipping to sleep is so freaking maddening.
After 5 consecutive days of this I was close to breaking down. I couldn’t focus on anything. I was miserable.
So I finally tapped a resource that had been given to me months prior. A breathing exercise taught by Dr. Andrew Weil.
When I had initially received the audio book, I basically brushed it aside as something I’d eventually get to. I found it a little hokey. I mean how could a simple breathing technique really matter.
But in my moment of crisis, day 6 of no quality sleep, I decided to give it a go.
Within 15 minutes of listening I was crying tears of joy as I believed that what Dr. Weil was about to teach would change my life.
I finished the audio book. Performed a few 8-cycle Relaxing Breaths before bed, and then one in bed. Focused on my breath. And then woke up the next day!
I’ve worked the Relaxing Breath into my nightly (and daily) routine and haven’t had a single sleepless night since, now going on 2.5 weeks. Holy shit.
You can quickly learn the ‘Relaxing Breath’ here (Exercise 2). It takes almost no time to perform.
My Before Bed Routine
- Perform 8-breath cycles 45 - 60 before bed
- Read (fiction)
- Perform 8-breath cycles 30 before bed
- Perform 8-breath cycles right before I head to bed
- Focus on my breathing in bed
So what’s the ‘Relaxing Breath’ actually doing?
Here’s my take after a bit of reading. Our autonomic nervous systems get out of balance and get stuck in fight or flight loops due to the over-stimulated world we live in.
The relaxing breath brings balance back to your autonomic nervous system (the force) by delivering an all natural tranquilizer through it’s breath pattern.
And you feel it instantly.
The coolest part is the more you do it the stronger it gets. Dr. Weil describes it as being like water, in that given enough time it can cut through canyons.
I perform the Relaxing Breath 3-4 times a day, mostly in the evenings to start calming myself down.
If during the day I find my nerves amping up (usually apparent by a fuzzy feeling behind my eye balls) I will do 8 breath cycles to calm down.
Hard conversations are the stuff that growth is made of. Ignore them at your peril.
Whether with your spouse, partner, co-founder, team member, family member, friend or employee. It is through hard conversations that you enable one another to grow.
What exactly are hard conversations made of? Typically how something made you feel or something you’ve observed about someone (something). In short, they are about a truth. And usually the truth hurts. Yet sharing and discussing truth is liberating. So you need to make sure you don’t enslave it.
Don’t short change the people in your life because you are scared of these hard conversations. Don’t give yourself an out. Through the pain that is having conversations a magic is unearthed.
Think of it as a tilling of the relationship soil that allows new crops to grow.
I’ve come to discover that one of the most satisfying feelings for me in life is the feeling I get towards the end of one of these conversations. And I encourage you to chase this high.
I’m not world class at having hard conversations yet. But it’s something I’m committed to and work on every day.
Hard conversations are called hard conversations for a reason they’re freaking hard. But I promise you this: hard conversations will lead to stronger and healthier relationships. Who doesn’t want that?
What conversations have you been avoiding?
I can’t write this without thanking Dana and Bryan for helping me have more hard conversations.
The things that carry your attention have an astronomical impact on your life.
The books and articles you read. Movies and shows you watch. Music you listen. People you spend time with. Places you visit, travel and shop. The thoughts you spend your time thinking.
Choose them wisely.
You sculpt yourself every day.
Garbage in, garbage out.
Thoughts on Drive
I wrote this over a year ago and never published it for some reason. Go see it if you haven’t it’s now on Netflix.
Drive was the best new movie I’ve seen all year.
Plot was simple. But each scene contained so much punch: body language, setting, score/soundtrack, emotions, violence, class.
Art direction amazing. Soundtrack so well executed.
The gratuitous violence contrasted by how gentle he is with the boy.
You watch two characters fall in love in two scenes and less than 5 words.
You know nothing about the Driver but you never question where he came from or the depth and rage it created.
It’s a wonderful movie. I smiled almost the entire time.
** Spoiler Alert **
So fucking breathtaking…
Third to last scene. He sits in his car bloodied. Camera pans slowly from bottom to top. He was just brutally stabbed in the stomach. He’s not moving. You wonder are his eyes open or closed?
Camera stops at his face. His eyes are open. Are they about to close. Is he about to die, is he dead? The outside appears to be getting brighter. Is the sun setting?
He blinks. He’s alive. Then squints. Is he dying? Camera pans down to his right hand as it reaches for the ignition and starts the car.