It’s a gift

Do I deserve this? (Larry King)

Every morning, when I open my eyes, I think:  Do I deserve this?  I woke up.  I have the gift of today.  A gift.

So what if the skies are cloudy?  So what if I burned the eggs at breakfast?  So what if I hit a traffic jam on the way to work?  I’ve got the gift of today.

I can carry an umbrella.  I can cook more eggs.  I can find a better route.  I can’t create another day.  It’s a gift.

No petty annoyance, no person or circumstance, can take that gift away.

Do the unusual

Explore the freedom in limitations

There is a kind of freedom in doing work under limitations.  You narrow your scope.  You focus on the essentials, and use your resources – money, people, and time – carefully.  You get creative.

When there’s not enough money, and not enough time, and few resources available, you cut out the excess, you move past the way things are usually done, and you do the unusual.

When you embrace the freedom to innovate, you make magic despite limitations.

Is it three feet, or three thousand mile away?

What’s your metric?

If you don’t know what you’re looking for, how will you know when you’ve found it?

Every day you’re working hard; improving, creating, pushing limits.  You’re working to get somewhere.  Where?

What number, word, or sentence describes your metric – what you want to achieve, and where you want to go?   Have you taken the time to think on paper, to get it down?  If it’s not indelible, how will you know when you get there?  How will you know whether it’s three feet or three thousand miles away?

Metrics matter.

Break the routine

Get out of survival mode

It’s easy to become stuck in the routine of just making it –  the routine of just getting by from day to day to day.  But if you want more than what you’re getting from that, you have to break the pattern.  You have to establish new rituals.

Rituals are the new things you do with intent.  Done with intent because you do them fully intending to change your life.  New patterns for what you do when you awaken, and what you do before you go to bed.  Carving out time for meditating, reading, journaling, exercise.  Maybe a cold shower to get you engaged.  Carving out time to be fully present when you’re with the people who truly matter. Carving out time for focused activity – particularly on what you want to do, but have been putting off.

It’s just as important what you stop doing as well as what you start.  Maybe that means unplugging on a regular basis.  Maybe that means listening more than you speak.  Maybe that means changing to better sleep patterns.

If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you always get.  Quit making excuses. If you want more, if you want better, you have to break the routine, change the patterns and intentionally get out of survival mode.

No, or no response?

Sometimes the best no is no response

Don’t resort to responding because of guilt. Don’t empower those who don’t deserve a reply.  Don’t bother to even say no unless you’ve first decided that saying no is the right thing to do.

Every day you are bombarded by the so-called entitled.  They demand your attention.  They pull your strings.  They mess with your head, try to intimidate and then manipulate your compliance to their urgent demands.

Choose when to say no, and when to keep moving ahead.  Otherwise the entitled will rob you of your precious focus and time.

What’s in the way?

Why not?

Why can’t you do your 3 year plan in the next 6 months?  What’s in the way?  Is it real, or is it you?

What has to change?  What constraints do you need to release?  What obstacles do you need to surmount?

Most of the time, what gets in the way of reaching goals faster is not circumstance and outside factors – it’s you.

Neither platitudes nor charity

Give hope

Not platitudes, not token acts of charity.  Hope is about the example you are to the world.

Not about making statements of positivity or tossing a few coins in a beggar’s basket, but the unspoken dialogue of the you that you present to the world.  The example that challenges someone to think differently. The example that pushes someone to aspire higher.  The example that drives others to discover, or recharge, their diminished inner power.

When you show the world you can sing while you’re neck deep in the muck of the swamp, you give hope that’s greater than mere words can express.  Give hope.

Impostors or innovators?

Kill your darlings. – Stephen King

Even when it breaks your egocentric heart.  Kill them.

Stephen was speaking to the need to revise, to make changes to work (in his case, writing).  Yet it applies to all we do.  Everything we do we can do better.  Not perfect, but better.  To be better, we have to lose the ego so wrapped up in what we create.  Creating anything is not about self; it’s about doing the work, and discovering in the process how it can add special value we can share with our world.

Most of the time, genius is found in the act of revision; not in the first cut.  The hunger and drive to create something lasting must be fused with the decision to ruthlessly edit, make changes, and sometimes destroy.  Make the changes until what’s created is as good as can be – for now.

The imposter is so self-confident to think the first cut was a masterpiece.  The true innovator is not so sure, and probably scared.  The true innovator lets that fear drive the revision process to make the work as good as it can be.

The question:  Are we imposters, or innovators?

Audacious or average?

Pursue the best

Lots of ideas show up. Many seem worthy at first, but lead to dead ends.  Your job is to filter out those dead ends.

Think critically, look harder.  Look inside your box of ideas for what’s new and fresh, what’s uncontested ground.  If it’s not there, work harder to find it and build it.

Choosing to pursue the best is extraordinarily difficult.    That’s why most chose average.  You have to be bold and brash.  You have to slay sacred cows, create disruption, piss off the entrenched because you decided not to confront them, but to totally sidestep them.  You’ve decided to go for more than a recycled version of what’s already there.

Are you willing to err on the side of being audacious?  What do you have to lose?   It’s either audacious or average, so choose.

Be receptive

You don’t have to be a genius to make genius.  – Ryan Holiday
Every day you experience moments of brilliance.  Moments you miss if you’re not paying attention.  Moments easily obscured when you focus on the ordinary, when you let yourself become distracted.
Don’t wait for inspiration. Don’t sit and dream about the time when genius might show up.  It’s already there, already in and around you.  Learn to be receptive.
Seize those fleeting moments and run with them.  Probe them, ask questions of yourself and others.  Test your ideas, push the envelope, and let those small moments build big momentum.