Random Notes and Recent Thoughts #3

I haven’t done one of these in a while. Here are some short ideas I have yet to fully flesh out but are complete enough to share right now anyway. Perhaps in doing so they will drive a discussion that will lead to a longer post.

  • When “No” is your default, the things that fight their way to “Yes” have a deeper value and meaning. They not only have to earn their place, they have to maintain their worth to keep it. “Yes” is important. “Yes” means that something really matters to me. But, this is only the case — and I would argue only can be the case — when “Yes” is not easy and “No” is the default.

  • It is not enough to simply accept, put-up-with, or ignore those things that might drive us nuts about our partners in a relationship. We must learn to appreciate them. Find the ways in which those things might, in fact, be a part of what makes the other person so great. Unless we do, we risk it becoming the chink that becomes a hole that, under pressure, breaks the dam.

  • Like wide margins in a book makes it easier and more pleasurable to read, leaving wide margins in your life makes it easier and more pleasurable to live. Also, having margins in a book leaves lots of room to make notes, observations, doodle, and offer your thoughts. So goes margins in life, too.

  • The reason for quantifying your commitments, and making the time and space for them on a calendar, is as much about committing to your tasks and projects as it is to committing to the margins.

  • The gulf between irresponsibility and opportunity is bridged by intention.

  • Kindness is a habit. One that is strengthened and improved the more you are so.

  • Always get the best paint you can buy. The difference between the good stuff and everything else is measured in decades and, in some cases, centuries.

  • Just a little bit more effort goes such a long way because so many do so much less than the minimum required.

Without Much Notice (The Prairie Returns)

I love the little yellow flowers
that bloom this time of year
in the gardens
along the roadside
between the pavement cracks
in the places we otherwise
pass quickly by them
without much notice
a lost prairie fighting back
brilliant goldenrod
majestic sunflower
black eyed sue
reminding us
that this is its proper place
that these concrete roads
and planted spaces
are convenience and facade
these flowers reveal
that they have always belonged
that they will remain, here
while we will not
we will pass quickly by
without much notice
yet these flowers
will still bloom proudly
after we are gone
and the prairie returns

The Summer of Ownership

As we near then end of the season, I’ve started to meditate on it and take stock. This has been an interesting summer for sure. Filled with too many good moments to count. A bit crazy making at times, but even the downsides have informed my wife and I in important ways.

Yet, as I have thought about it personally, the theme that keeps coming back up again and again is one of ownership — specifically, my taking ownership of tasks and projects despite my fears, challenges, lack of knowledge, or other encumbrance that, in the past, I’ve used as an excuse not to. Here are just a few of the many examples that pop up in my mind.

  • I suck at sketching and drawing. At least, I think I do. I’ve always been self critical about it. Yet, I’ve been working to improve this as I’ve always admired others that are really good at it and it is a skill I have long wished to have. Getting to know, and have the skilled teaching, of Mike Rohde has helped quite a bit. While his personal encouragement and support in this area have been essential, his books have been especially important in spurring me to push well past my comfort zone. I’ve not only tried sketchnoting at conferences and meetings but I have been creating practice opportunities at least once a week by watching and sketchnoting TED Talks and other such things. Heck, this past Sunday I spent at least a half hour just practicing drawing coffee cups – coffee cups! The point being that this is a skill I’ve long struggled with personally, desired to be better at, and have actively take ownership of the work required to so so.

  • I certainly don’t consider myself "handy" but woodworking has long been something I wish I knew how to do. So, building my wife a little free library was a real push of my self-perceived limits even with the expert help of a good friend. The final result of the library itself was spectacular. But, more than that, I learned so much building it and gained a tremendous amount of confidence in my ability to tackle other building projects I’ve long wanted to tackle.

  • I’ve never implemented a website for a client that someone else was hired to design. One of the reasons was the fear of my ability to do so. When I do the design, I have the control and will only design something I know I can build. If someone else does the design, I previously had doubted my skills and abilities to execute it — what if they designed something I did not know how to do? Well, a couple of months ago, I had to confront this fear and doubt head on with a new site for an existing client that they had hired someone else to copy-write and design, but wanted me to build. It was a situation that I did all I could to try to avoid but, in the end, had to suck it up and get it done. And, you know what? It turned out great (it is still not live yet so, unfortunately, I can’t link to the results). Not only did I surprise myself with the knowledge and skill I already had, I also was forced to learn a few new things that will serve me and other clients well in the future.

There have been many other examples as well. The point being that I’ve been pretty proud of the fact that I have stepped up in areas I would previously have passed off, hired out, or stepped away from. And, every single time I have been the better for doing so.

I’m a writer. Writing is how I make this world better, friendlier, stronger place. If these words improved your day, please let me know by contributing here.

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