Sometimes the hardest things to see are those that are right in front of you. Your nose is always front and center but most of us don’t pay it any mind. The reason why we tend to forget about it is because it is always there. Our brains tend to discard or ignore those things that can be taken for granted. Air, light, food, water, friends, opportunity, etc. are just a beginning to the list of things that we take for granted each day. This is not to say that we should be spending major amounts of time contemplating air in a recreational effort. It is simply to point out that your brain is working at all times to determine what is worth your attention and what is not. This ability to ignore the inconsequential is wonderful until it isn’t. As they say, the dose makes the poison.
Although our brains were originally designed to act in our best interest, the operating system has not been updated in a long time. So if you do not intervene on your own behalf, your brain will protect you from things that are no longer relevant. Most of the fear and anxiety that you feel is supposed to keep you from being eaten by a bear or be kicked out of the tribe. The latter is more relevant than the former but both need to oversight. On its default settings, your brain will keep you alive and partially comfortable in the modern world. If you are looking for more than that, then you need to be more deliberate about the things that you see.
The invisible nose is just a representation of the things that you’re ignoring. More important things are out there that you should be aggressively pursuing but you just don’t see them. Opportunities pass you by or better yet you pass them by regularly. The reason is that you’re not programmed to notice them. That’s not safe! Stay where it’s comfortable! Don’t stand out! Don’t fail! These are all things that your brain screams subliminally everyday. Unless you take control and look for that which is most important to you. Those things may not be as obvious as you want them to be. Although they might be directly in front of you, they may be buried under a pile of societal and personal hard-wiring. Hacking your way through that will be difficult, time consuming and totally worth it once you’re on the other side.
So I’ve give you permission. Look at the world with fresh eyes and endeavor to see everything. Hack away at the beliefs that no longer make sense. Filter your vision to look for the ideal rather than the real. Your past low expectations will be there to catch you if you fall. It starts with a moment and builds from there. Make this your first moment!
Have a great day!
In the English subway system, there are both visual and auditory reminders to “Mind the Gap”. This is a call for attention to the space between the platform and the train. It is a helpful reminder but probably almost unnoticed by most local people. However for the American tourist this is an out of the ordinary bit of speech. “Mind” is rarely used as a verb in American English and “the gap” is a store or possibly brings thoughts of Michael Strahan. Due to its unique wording and situational use, it tends to have sticking power with tourists. It is helpful to “Mind the Gap”. While it is a everyday practicality in the UK, it seems as though there is a gap issue in the USA.
The gap that I am referring to has nothing to do with the subway but rather the “gap” between you and your goals. It is a space that many people do not want to acknowledge. The gap represents all of the undesirable aspects of the goal: the work, the discipline, the sacrifice and persistence. These are the bricks that form the path to the object of our desires. Unfortunately the easy road is so seductive that you forego logic and buy the false lottery promises. So you ignore the gap and sit on the couch to dream the impossible dream. The only reason that the dream is impossible is that you never take enough action to get there. All of that action happens in the gap.
Since the gap is a necessary part of eventual success, why not mind the gap or even better learn to love the gap! It’s the place where you will be spending most of your time. So why waste it by avoiding or hating it? Take it as the place where you find out who you really are. Anyone can sit on the thrown of triumph without effort. It takes a totally different mentality to wear a medal that was buried under a mountain of muck. So can you mind the gap? It is a difficult task but your up to it. Don’t get discouraged by the other people (even those who care about you) who are afraid of the gap and try to protect you from the gap. They are invested in their own comfort, not your goal. If you succeed, then they might have to mind the gap. So take the step! Start now because the gap isn’t going anywhere and right now, neither are you. Your goal is not magnetic, you need to go to it. Get in the gap!
Each of us has a potential amount of fire power in a given year. If you think of your energy to finish projects as gunpowder, some of us have a barrel full and others could barely fill one of those Chinese novelty snap pellets. While knowing how much powder you have is helpful, it is also important to divvy it up intelligently. Even the barrel-full may not be sufficient if divided a thousand times and put into the wrong weapons. By contrast, an intelligently used pinch could be life-changing. So how much firepower do you really have and where are you going to use it?
At the end of this year will you be basking in the glory of your successful hunt? Or will you be left standing with your Red Ryder Carbine in denial that you’re full of hot (but compressed) air? That’s completely up to you and it starts right now. Pick out your targets, if you haven’t already. Write them down and decide how you will take them down. Although truly ‘How’ is very rarely the problem. It is usually getting the focus and commitment to the target that people fail to do. So write them down now!
Once you have your targets, then you can plan out how to systematically deal with each one. It’s a simple enough process once you commit to it. What you need to do is “fall back on superior firepower and superior intelligence. And that’s all she wrote!”
Today I turn 40 years old. This is a seemingly important milestone for many people. I’m not really feeling it though. The number is almost a non-factor for me. My childhood friend, Lia Fritz, was the first person who made me think deeply about how age worked. She was born on February 29th and would state that she was 3 years old when she was 12 and so on. Although she was only joking, it started me thinking. What if we changed the measurement of age? It makes little sense to only measure life by years. On that scale of measurement, my life is on even terms with anyone else born December 7th, 1975. Maybe life isn’t best measured in years.
Some systems of measurement lend themselves to easy conversion. A 100 meter race can simply be changed to a 109.361 yard race. It seems strange to make it a 1/16 of a mile race but it’s better than 1/420 of a marathon. By comparison the 100 meter run seems minuscule when measured by marathons. These conversions give a perspective that the perception of the magnitude of something can be influenced by how it is measured. There are many people who have lived for a many years but those years were seemingly empty. What is the right metric for measuring the life of a man?
There are so many metrics that could be used to measure a life. If my life were measured in economic terms from an American perspective, I’ve lived a very average life. In economic terms of an Ecuadorian, I’m doing very well. If measured by miles, I’ve traveled to six foreign countries and visited over half of our United States. My life could be viewed as very full. If measured by the number of Grateful Dead concerts that I’ve attended, then I’ve not lived at all. With so many metrics to choose, it is important to choose wisely with something that represents our purpose on this planet.
For me personally, I measure my life by the people that I’ve been able to help. It may seem like a random way to measure a life and in many ways it is almost immeasurable. Those limitations to my system do not bother me in the slightest. It makes me more comfortable than the idea of my existence being reduced to the number of years that I’ve been alive. One may be more exact than the other but my metric is in line with my life’s purpose and actually propels me forward toward better experiences. Having more time is not particularly a desirable commodity unless it is being used for something worthwhile.
Today may not be your calendar birthday but it may be a new opportunity to measure your life in a way that means something to you. So go into the world today with the purpose of identifying how you measure your life and pursue it. Happy Birthday to you!
In the 1980’s Robert Urich (not my uncle), starred in a poorly made B movie called “Ice Pirates”. The story is based in the future where the only resource that matters is water. The ice pirates are a comedic band of humans and robots who initially try to steal whatever water they can find. However they end up stumbling into a bigger adventure to help a Princess find her father who was lost looking for Mithra “the water planet”. There’s more to it but I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you.
The ice pirates in many ways are not what I would describe as role models. However despite their shortcomings, they slowly but surely move toward their goal. At the beginning, they never could have anticipated where they would end up. They make several mistakes along the way. They don’t have the right resources. Obstacles and enemies keep coming up to stop them. Their path is not a straight line but a series of unexpected turns and setbacks. They are me and they are you.
If nothing else, the Ice Pirates had a clear vision of what they wanted. Perhaps you’re not even there but it doesn’t have to be as life and death as water. It could be as simple as a goal for the day. Regardless of how big or small you choose to make your goal, the way of the Ice Pirates is completely acceptable. Stumble forward through each of your missteps and be prepared to laugh at your past mistakes. Although you may be striving for the promised land, you are not a mythical creature with superhuman abilities. You are fallible and should expect to fail OFTEN! Victory is not guaranteed to those that begin with the greatest advantage. It is guaranteed to those that continue until the prize is won.
PS – Don’t watch Ice Pirates unless you have two hours to kill and go in with low expectations!
Sunday morning I drove from Maryland to a soccer tournament in South Jersey. I crossed the Delaware Memorial Bridge at about 7:30 am. This is not a major problem but I have a fear of heights. When I cross high bridges, I usually get a tingling sensation in my legs. It is a physical reaction to my mental picture of the bridge coincidentally collapsing as my car crosses it. This fear is not debilitating, just a sensation that I have to move past. There was a heavy fog that morning and I could not see any indication of height. Strangely enough there was no tingling in my legs despite knowing that the height was there. This was extremely odd because the tingling has been consistent for years.
Fog is nothing more than a dense accumulation of water molecules that clouds our vision slightly. The fog allowed my vision to focus on the road ahead and nothing else. It’s such as simple thing but it is profound as well. The thing that we fear is very rarely staring us right in the face. It is usually on the periphery and we allow it to distract us just enough to cause accidents or immobilize us. The fog didn’t take away the possibility of danger, it only blurred my acknowledgement of it. As you set a goal, fog your fear as well.
Make your goal ever-present. Put it in front of you in pictures, words and emotions. Print it out in 72 pt font. Ingrain its presence into your consciousness like a hot rivet being driven into a steel beam. Then take your fears and put them out there in the fog. If you’re a picture person, put the photo of your fear behind wax paper. Print it in 4 pt font, so that by comparison that fear is extremely small. It is acknowledged but not as big as the goal. Fear is almost never completely extinguished. The key is to make it an ember rather than a bonfire. Embers are easy to ignore. Fog your fear and focus on your goal.
Go for that big thing today, tomorrow and the next day!
As we are moving past the time when most people have given up on their New Year’s Resolutions, I offer this subtle reminder. THIS IS WHAT YOU WANTED. It is sometimes a difficult thing to swallow. Goals and resolutions are pretty and shiny when we create them. Everything will go great! You’ll be able to maintain this level of excitement until you get to the end! The problem is that we usually forget or don’t know the following.
When you set up a goal or make a resolution it is much like ordering your favorite dessert. For me that would be the classic chocolate milkshake. Unfortunately you forgot to read the fine print. Before you will be served your delicious dessert, you have an appetizer of pain coming. That will be followed by a main course of discipline with self-sacrifice sauce and side order of humility. Once you are able to choke down those mammoth size helpings of something that YOU DIDN’T ORDER, you’ll finally get that thing that you wanted.
Just remember that THIS IS WHAT YOU WANTED, all of it is part of the deal. Embrace it. You’ll actually find at some point halfway through the main course that you like the taste of it. Those things that you overlooked on the menu are actually something that you want for yourself. The problem is that most people retreat too early because THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANTED! At the end of the meal you’ll have to settle up the check. If you stuffed yourself full with meal and goal, the bill is paid with PRIDE. If you left your meal unfinished, then you have a debt of REGRET that is difficult to wipe away.
Decide on what you want from the menu!
Someday is a great concept with an infinite amount of possibility. “Someday I’ll get that new car. Someday I’ll meet that special someone. Someday we’ll get that bigger house. Someday I’ll feel better about myself.” The problem with someday is that it is like a ship floating off in the distance. The only way to get someday to come is to lasso it, anchor it to the spot where you stand and pull it in.
Today is all that we ever truly have. So if we want someday to eventually become today, we need to connect the two. I don’t know what your someday dream is but it will probably require a lot of pulling. Each and every day you need to do something to get you closer to that someday. At times it will seem like you’re making no progress. It may seem like it is impossible. Then you’ll find out which is more important: wasting today or using it to turn it into someday.