Category Archives: Uncategorized

Change Agents

Tiny joys.
Tiny joys.

Let’s be change agents in the world around us. The world sure needs some good, and we say we want to help. Like drops of rain carving the Grand Canyon, I believe in the power of small change. Here’s ten ways to be a force for good in the world right this very second. Choose one. Act immediately.

  1. Hug the people in your house. They’re already there. They go out into the world everyday to share the love you give to them. It’s love, exponential.
  2. Love the people in your town. If your neighborhood is changing, go meet someone new.
  3. Don’t watch the news. Someone will be dying to tell you what’s going on, anyway. Let them have the joy of being in the know. You can have the joy of being present in your own life.
  4. Ask your neighbors to keep on eye on things when you go out of town. It engenders trust. It’s an easy excuse to go meet them.
  5. Take a deep breath. You’re no good to anybody when you’re too stressed out to function.
  6. Give a kind word to somone behind the counter. They’re bored and underpaid and it’s doesn’t cost you anything to spare a good word.
  7. Use the artistic gifts you were given. Make seomthing. Share it online. It encourages other people to use their gifts.
  8. Shop local. Buy Christmas presents from a local retailer. Use the local tags on Etsy.
  9. Clean  something. It’s a little of acedia combat and broken window theory. Put your hands to work and make something shiny. I don’t know why it helps, but it always does.
  10. Text someone and tell them why they’re awesome.

 

photo by David Schap

Knowledge Procrastination

books

Do you have a passion? Do you know everything there is to know about that thing? Here’s why that might be a big mistake.

Knowing EVERYTHING there is to know about writing, building a platform, and the publishing industry does not make you a writer. Writing makes you a writer.

Don’t let getting help stop you from doing the work. Continuing education should be extra, only done after your work is done for the day. As Ramit Sethi says, “Don’t keep paying other people as a way of delegating decisions.”

Knowledge Procrastination

Knowledge procrastination feels productive because you are learning skills that may eventually help you in your craft. The problem is that often we never get around to actually practicing the craft itself. If your goal was to make a million dollars, but you just read personal finance books and never actually sold or bought anything, you will never reach that goal. But, if after reading a book you implement just one idea, you will have learned something much more valuable about how to get closer to that million dollar goal.

The same thing is true with writing or any art form. You can get that MFA. You can take another course. You can hire another coach. But unless you sit down, face your fear, and do the work, you are just paying for someone to help you procrastinate.

Shadow Careers

That’s right. Getting an MFA might be a valuable experience. But it also might be a three-year-put-off-the-terror project. If you should be writing, but you use your MFA to get a teaching job so you can teach other people how to write instead, you are indulging in a shadow career. Shadow careers, as defined by Steven Pressfield, are careers that are close to what you want, but not IT.

Sometimes, when we’re terrified of embracing our true calling, we’ll pursue a shadow calling instead. The shadow career is a metaphor for our real career. Its shape is similar, its contours feel tantalizingly the same. But a shadow career entails no real risk. If we fail at a shadow career, the consequences are meaningless to us.

Are you pursuing a shadow career?

Are you getting your Ph.D. in Elizabethan Studies because you’re afraid to write the tragedies and comedies you know you have inside you? Are you living the drugs-and-booze half of the musician’s life, without actually writing the music? Are you working in a support capacity for an innovator because you’re afraid to risk being an innovator yourself?

An actor who just does set design. An artist who does advertising. A writer who does marketing. A poet who teaches poetry, but never gets around to writing her own.

Don’t let GETTING CLOSE TO THE THING stop you from doing the thing.

Similarly, don’t let paying for knowledge about the thing make you believe that you are actually doing the thing.

Just do the thing.

10 Ways to Kick Fear in the Face

10. Sign up for something you’re not ready for. A half-marathon in six months? A conference where you’re sure to be the worst in the room? A weekend kayaking training trip? Yes. Do that.

9. Ask a stranger for a thing. Anything. Look for rejection until it stops feeling personal. Learn from Amanda Palmer and Jia Jiang.

8. Spend five minutes writing out action steps to take toward something that scares you. Take it out of the daydream. Write it down on real-life paper.

7. Hire a coach. Find someone who will hold you accountable to take action.

6. Start a conversation with the next stranger you see.

5. Read this every single day:

Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.
Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

4. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Follow all your fears out to their logical conclusions. Ask if you can live with the consequences. “If I pitch to this client, and they say no… then what? Then I’ll still be alive AND will have gained some valuable pitching experience? That’s not so bad.”

3. “Share something small every day.” – Austin Kleon

Show the work in progress. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Show the steps. Inspire other people to be beginners, too.

Austin Kleon Show Your Work
via http://lisacongdon.com

2. Dance like an idiot.

1. Take a deep breath. Walk around the block. Spend a few minutes alone. Face the day. Face yourself. Face the rest of us. BE BOLD!