Day #458:You Don’t Really Care, Do You?

Well, maybe you do care, but only because your paycheck (or reputation) is on the line. However, this isn’t always sufficient to keep you bringing your best to the work. You have to have a well-established through-line that provides baked-in motivation to keep working when things get tough.

Possible sources:
– Misplaced ego: You’ve made the work all about yourself, so when there’s little acclaim on the line you can’t quite gear up for it.
– Old problems, new you: You’ve personally moved on from the problems that used to intrigue you, but you’re still plugging away at them.
– Black Box Phenomenon: You’re plugging away at the work, but have absolutely no clue why any of your required tasks are relevant to the larger mission of the organization. You’re all “what” with no “why”, which creates dissonance.

Solution: You have to be brutally honest with yourself about issues of motivation, and do your best to tie your work back to a deeper through-line that motivates you. Sure, you may not always care about the specific tasks, but how you work says a lot about who you are as a person, which I assume you do care a lot about.

Day #457:Pause and Think

“People don’t like to think. If one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant.” ― (often attributed to) Helen Keller

In busy times, the thing we most often squeeze out of our lives is the single most essential component to effectiveness: thought. Isn’t it odd that when there is more on the line, we stumble into the bad habit of “shooting from the hip” rather than giving full and measured consideration to our responsibilities?

However, the most important time to instill the discipline of structured thought is when you are busy.

In Hero With a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell describes what he calls the “sacred space”. This was his term for the time and place each day in which he would immerse himself in thought, study, and experience that filled his well and allowed him to stretch his mind and spirit.

If you are busy – especially if you are busy – you must adopt the discipline of setting aside time to think, reflect on your day and your work, and to fill your mind and your soul with inspiration. More than that, it can be valuable to break out in the midst of challenging work to take a quick walk around the office, retreat to a corner, or step outside for a few minutes.

Day #456:Alone With Your Thoughts

When was the last time you could say that you were actually “alone with your thoughts”? I don’t mean sitting on a bus checking your Twitter feed, or standing in line at the check out point at the grocery store scrolling through your e-mail, or even sitting on a sofa reading a book. I mean genuinely alone with your thoughts.

I’ve discovered that many people – myself sometimes included – are actually afraid to think. Some of it is, in a way, a fear that deep thought yields accountability for action. (If I come up with a great idea, then I’m accountable to act on it!) Most of it, though, is a kind of laziness.

It’s much more comfortable to immerse yourself in the thoughts of others, letting the milieu wash over you rather than stilling yourself and considering your life, your work, and your relationships in a thoughtful manner.

Day #455:Die Empty by Todd Henry

“Embrace the importance of now, and refuse to allow the lull of comfort, fear, familiarity, and ego to prevent you from taking action on your ambitions…The cost of inaction is vast. Don’t go to your grave with your best work inside of you. Choose to die empty.”

Most of us live with the stubborn idea that we’ll always have tomorrow to do our most important and valuable work. We fill our days with frantic activity, bouncing from task to task, scrambling to make deadlines and chase the next promotion. But by the end of each day we’re often left asking ourselves “did the work I do today really matter?” We feel the ticking of the clock, but we’re stuck in first gear, unsure of the path forward and without a road map to guide us.

Here’s the hard truth: sooner or later all of our tomorrows will run out, so how we choose to spend today is significant. Each day that we postpone difficult tasks and succumb to the clutter that chokes creativity, discipline, and innovation results in a net deficit to the world, our organizations, and ourselves.

Todd Henry’s  Die Empty is a tool for people who aren’t willing to put off their most important work for another day. Todd Henry explains the forces that keep us in stagnation, and introduces a process for instilling consistent practices into your life that will keep you on a true and steady course.

It’s not about slaving over a project or living on a whim—it’s about embracing the idea that time is finite and making the unique contribution to the world that only you can make. Henry shows how to cultivate the mindset and the methods you need to sustain your enthusiasm, push through mental barriers, and unleash your best work each day.

Day #454:A Moving 1 Minute Tribute to Robin Williams

When Robin Williams sadly passed away on August 11, the world lost one of its most talented entertainers. The outpouring of sympathy and admiration from fans around the globe is a testament to how loved he was and how much he will be missed. He embodied his characters to the fullest, and had the fortune to portray some of the most dynamic and inspirational film roles to date. Of all the touching tributes out there, this one caught my eye because of it’s simplicity along with its powerful message. It features some of his most beloved characters from films such as Hook, Patch Adams, Jumanji, Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs Doubtfire. What makes this one-minute tribute so special is that it’s set to the graduation speech at the end of the 1996 film Jack in which Robin played a boy who ages four times as fast as normal.
Take a moment to appreciate his inspirational words that remind us to make the most of life:

“Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day, make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.”


Day #453: Paulo Coelho, Eleven Minutes:”Passion”

“Passion makes a person stop eating, sleeping, working, feeling at peace. A lot of people are frightened because, when it appears, it demolishes all the old things it finds in its path.

No one wants their life thrown into chaos. That is why a lot of people keep that threat under control, and are somehow capable of sustaining a house or a structure that is already rotten. They are the engineers of the superseded.

Other people think exactly the opposite: they surrender themselves without a second thought, hoping to find in passion the solutions to all their problems. They make the other person responsible for their happiness and blame them for their possible unhappiness. They are either euphoric because something marvelous has happened or depressed because something unexpected has just ruined everything.

Keeping passion at bay or surrendering blindly to it – which of these two attitudes is the least destructive?

I don’t know.”

Paulo Coelho, Eleven Minutes

Day #452:My Favorite Quotes From “Aleph” By Paulo Coelho

I started reading Paulo Coelho’s book Aleph again this week after a friend sent it to me. This is one of my best Paulo Coelho books. It’s an autobiography about the author’s life, his struggle with spirituality, personal growth and his quest to find meaning by going on a pilgrimage on the trans- Siberian rail line.

The center theme of “Aleph” can easily be related to by many.  Routines wear us down.  Great losses in life too may dip us into an emotional abyss.  We may find faith and then lose it along the way.  Or regrets in our past and worries in our future too can weigh us down.  How then can we get out of this?  A pilgrimage, as suggested by the author, may have the answer we need.

There are quite a few quotes that are memorable, that I can relate to and would like to share with you.

1. It’s what you do in the present that will redeem the past and thereby change the future.

2. When faced by any loss, there’s no point in trying to recover what has been, it’s best to take advantage of the large space that opens up before us and fill it with something new.

3. People never leave, we are always here in our past and future lives.

I think the first quote is self-explanatory.  What we do at present matters the most.  The next two are to help us coping with losses.

4. Although sometimes, we need to be strangers to ourselves.  Then the hidden light in our soul will illuminate what we need to see.

What it means, I suppose, is that in order to rediscover ourselves, we need to look pass what has become so familiar.  Examine our lives in the eyes of a stranger in a detached manner.

5. Now each morning, when your mind is still empty, devote a little time to the Divine … Inhale deeply and ask for all the blessings in the air to enter your body and fill every cell.  Then exhale slowly, projecting happiness and peace around you.  Repeat this ten times.  You’ll be helping to heal yourself and contributing to healing the world as well.

6. Walking is doing wonders for body and soul.  I’m completely focused on the present moment, for that is where all signs, parallel worlds and miracles are to be found.  Time really doesn’t exist.

7. Don’t be intimidated by other people’s opinions.  Only mediocrity is sure of itself, so take risks and do what you really want to do.

8. Anyone who knows God cannot describe Him. Anyone who can describe God does not know Him.

9. Love is beyond time, or, rather, love is both time and space, but all focused on one single constantly evolving point – the Aleph.

That, is the Aleph.  You may need to read the book in order to understand what he says.

10. We can never wound the soul, just as we can never wound God, but we become imprisoned by our memories, and that makes our lives wretched, even when we have everything we need in order to be happy.

11. Is it possible to deviate from the path God has made?  Yes, but it’s always a mistake.  Is it possible to avoid pain?  Yes, but you’ll never learn anything.  Is it possible to know something without ever having experienced it?  Yes, but it will never truly be part of you.

This is probably one of my favorite quotes.  We shall always seek to experience, accept the pain as it comes, and follow God’s will.

Last but not the least, there is one quote to share.  I agree wholeheartedly.

12. Like the children we will never ever cease to be.