Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Gratitude

Every minute of every day, I realize that I have a limited amount of time left.

And I am grateful for every moment I have.

When In Doubt

You will never go wrong asking yourself “How can I best be of service here?

If you are at a loss, thinking ”What can I do to help?” is also a good starting point.

If things are really going south and you’re not sure what to do, don’t personalize what’s happening. Everything isn’t about you. Think about the greater good.

Bring value to the situation. Be part of the solution – not part of the problem…

Life Lesson Part 1

Nobody likes the boss. It’s unfortunately just part of the gig. When you are in charge of other people, they are no longer your friends – at least while you’re working. Outside of work you can still be friends, but once you assume authority, you have ceased being “just part of the group.”

You are now the boss. You need their respect, not friendship. You’ve got a job to do – and you better be fucking good at it…

Love Your Enemies

I know this sounds odd, but humor me for a moment – because not only am I not joking, I can assure you from experience that what I am about to discuss works. It seems counterintuitive and I’m not  going to pretend it’s easy – but it does work.

When I was in my 30’s, for about 10 years, I was very, very fortunate to have a music teacher from Julliard who was a profoundly deep and spiritual man. He taught me many things that had a huge impact on my understanding of life and how I should live it. Usually these “lessons” were presented informally as part of our conversation. I’ll never forget one recurring theme whose essence was “You must love your enemy away…” (Something very weird just happened – as I was typing this on my iPhone, autocorrect presented his name as a word choice in a sentence that shouldn’t have been triggered by the underlying algorithm!?)

Today I came across an editorial written by David Brooks about interacting with fanatics whose beliefs are anathema to yours. I will quote from his article: “You don’t have to like someone to love him. All you have to do is try to imitate Martin Luther King, who thrust his love into his enemies’ hearts in a way that was aggressive, remorseless and destabilizing (David Brooks).”

It is very difficult if not impossible for someone to remain angry with you if you are focused on loving them. Humans are primally wired to respond to love with positive feelings – if they are behaving aggressively at the very least they will be somewhat confused. This is how you change someone – not with anger and hatred, but with love. However, for this to work, you can’t fake it – it must be genuine. Faced with love and human acceptance, anger fades into empathy and the beginning of understanding. If you can do this you will find it has an added benefit: instead of carrying anger and negative feelings with you after your encounter, you will instead feel empowered and at peace.

It’s not impossible, anyone can do it. You are not condoning their beliefs and behaviors, you are just accepting them as the flawed human beings we all are and listening to what they have to say.

If you felt ignored and powerless and someone listened to you and they acknowledged your humanity and tried to understand your viewpoint (however misguided it might be) think of how that might make you feel.

Perhaps you wouldn’t feel quite so angry – you might actually begin to listen and have a dialogue with someone who doesn’t share your views.

And that my friend, is how things change…

Random Chaos

This, to me, is both the perplexing yet somehow reassuring fundamental law of our universe. This is the seed from which everything arises – all life, all art, the sum totality of human and universal existence.

Random chaos is the order that drives the engine of creation.

As humans, we crave an explanation that will help us understand that which seems unfathomable. This helps explain the allure of religion throughout human history. “It must all be part of god’s plan…” The problem with this kind of thinking (for me) is this: Not only do I not believe this is rational thinking, I don’t believe this is thinking at all. It’s something we say so we don’t have to think. I don’t believe there is any unifying order in the universe except random chaos, and I certainly don’t believe there is a “god.” I would, however, argue that there is beauty and wonder in random disorder. It’s mysterious and somehow comforting to imagine how random chaos could lead to the creation of such beautifully intricate designs.

I’m not sure why this idea is so offensive and hard to accept for many people. If anything, it reinforces how precious our existence is…

Comfort Zone

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that everyone has an innate “comfort zone” when it comes to their work environment. I think this is generally true, but certainly there are people who are not comfortable anywhere – however we’ll exclude them for the sake of our discussion.

Beyond the obvious, I wonder what this tells us about the person we are observing, or indeed, about ourselves. What underlying personality traits are at play here? Are we in the right environment where we can perform at our best, allowing us to make the greatest contribution to our world? Are we fulfilled by the the work we do in this space?

Are we in our comfort zone?

If not, perhaps it would serve us well to keep searching for the right fit. Life is too short to be miserable.

It’s Important To Suck At Something

This is a really, really crucial point. Because, the thing is, if you only do things that you are good at, you’re not really growing. This is especially true for things that we love and for which we have achieved a high degree of competency. Once you’ve achieved the status of expert, then it it’s just a question of becoming better and refining what you have already mastered. But this isn’t really growing – to really grow, I would argue that you actually need to learn something totally new. And when you begin the process of learning something new – you will 100% suck at it. This is a good thing – in fact, this is exactly where you want to be! Pathetically horrible – that’s what we’re going for.

This is how you remain vibrant and alive, this is how you remain young – you never stop learning. You never become afraid of sucking at something, of looking foolish. Because that’s where the fun is. Seeing yourself slowly get better at something you couldn’t do but wanted to is fucking thrilling.

Don’t Ever Give Up

No matter how old you are.

No matter how sick you are.

No matter how traumatized you are.

No matter how weak and tired you are.

No matter how uncertain you are.

No matter how injured you are.

No matter how grief stricken you are.

No matter how ashamed and sorry you are.

No matter how disabled you are.

No matter how mentally ill you are.

No matter how unloved you believe yourself to be.

No matter how  defective and broken you feel.

No matter how beaten down, depressed and despondent you have become.

Until you have reached the point at which death is imminent, know this:

You have something unique and special to contribute.

Don’t you ever, ever, ever fucking give up.

Own Your Space

Don’t just occupy it.

Own it.

Don’t hope things will get better.

Make them better.

Don’t complain.

Fix.

Making Something Happen

Let’s say you have a good job that’s very difficult but gratifying. It pays well, and you give it everything you’ve got when you’re working – it makes you feel good to do so. Over time you begin to see how you might be able to make things better, so you tentatively start trying to improve something specific. You begin to be rewarded for your efforts both by your peers and your bosses. Things slowly start to change, and you realize you are making something happen. You begin to be approached to work on more projects, and you gradually start to take on more responsibility in the workplace It’s a little intoxicating to see things start to happen, and it’s kind of fun to see what you can do, so you keep doing more…

Then one day you realize you are spending a significant amount of time at home working on projects you have volunteered to do. This signals a time for reassessment – and this is a good thing. One should always be constantly reassessing how time is spent – it’s our most precious commodity.

There is no good or bad here, just a reminder to maintain a vigilant awareness that our resources are limited, and we would be wise to remember this and act accordingly.

Careful…

Accidents happen in a split second. One minute you’re going about your day as usual, the next minute everything changes. Sometimes these accidents have life changing consequences for those involved. At the very least they remind us how fragile and precious life is.

No one wants to cause pain and suffering to anyone else much less their loved ones or themself. Protect yourself and others by paying attention.

Be careful out there.

The Window of Opportunity

For what it’s worth, here’s my take – the window of opportunity is a time limited affair. This is not a time for questioning, for weighing your options, for pondering about the right thing to do.

This is a time for action. You either seize the opportunity and act – or you pass. There is no one right answer here. Just be aware that once the window closes, that opportunity is gone. There will be others, but each one is unique.

Pay attention and act accordingly…

New Rule

Ok, if  I was suddenly made king of something or other, here’s my first new rule: You can no longer talk about the United States “gun problem” in public unless you have a solution. It doesn’t have to be a solution that will definitively work, but you must be able to back it up with a coherent thought process, and you must own it. And finally, you must be prepared to actually begin the process of implementing your solution.

Otherwise, please stop bloviating ad nauseum about your “viewpoint.” We’ve heard it all before.

Night Owl

I’ve always stayed up late, I guess I’m just wired that way. I have one of those brains that, no matter how exhausted I am, somewhere around 9 PM my mind starts to kick in, and by 11 o’clock I’m operating at full capacity with ease. Even if I’m exhausted, the later it gets the more cranked up I become. I may be sleep deprived and on my 3rd day with less than 6 hours a night, but at midnight I’m jacked.

When I wake up in the morning on days I work in the ER, I think “Why do you keep doing this?” because I feel  wiped as soon as I get up. All day at work I’m OK, but I know I’m not anywhere close to even 80%. Slowly but surely, however, I start to pick up steam as the day turns into night. And then: Boom! By 11 PM I’m operating at full speed. Going to bed is the last thing on my mind – I’ve got shit to do! Probably not the best thing for productivity, but there you go. I am what I am…

Art Or The Artist?

It should come as no big surprise that many creative, driven people are a complex manifestation of their personality and environment. Artists often create as a way of dealing with their pain – they are trying to understand and control their world, and often that world has proven to be overwhelmingly dangerous and chaotic.

It is also no surprise that, like all humans, artists are complicated and flawed. And therein lies the conundrum…

Does our appreciation for the art diminish if we discover the artist has done unforgivable things?

For example, if the artist is a racist, do we turn our back on their art? What if, prior to discovering this, we loved what they created and it profoundly enriched our lives? What if they beat their wives? Or were pedophiles? Or supported sociopathic tyrants?

I’m going to cut to the chase here and state my position clearly.

All that that matters is the art.

We are all imperfect and flawed, but what we strive to create is not bound and defined by these flaws – it is our attempt to transcend them.