Amidst the go-go-go and the self-assumed pressure of perceived expectations and obligations, it is easy to forget the core questions of Who and Why. In the pursuit of "progress," I've spent much of the past year inside, checking the boxes for certification and working to make tangible headway in my practice, often based on what the experts say and on what other folks are doing. And while I'm grateful for what I've received and created, I am reminded how delicate the balance is, between making time for my business and my learning, and making time for the passions and pursuit that don't initially seem to contribute tangibly to those pursuits.
When starting down this path a year ago and I had to make some conscious concessions regarding how I allocate my time, rock climbing was one of the activities I decided to shelf for a while. I've missed it at times, but felt content with my trade-offs. Of all the outdoor pursuits I enjoy, I find rock climbing's skill set to be the most perishable--the technical skills, fitness, and trust in gear and feet all quickly fading without maintenance--making the coming back to climbing at times a daunting and humbling endeavor.
This weekend, in Linville Gorge with perfect crisp fall conditions, I tied back into the sharp end of the rope for the first time in nearly a year. Lead climbing, or climbing on the sharp end, as it is sometimes called, consists of climbing above the pieces of protection with the rope trailing off below you. While a system of protection gets created as you ascend, you may have to fall a bit before it catches you, and depending on the terrain, falling might be a patently bad idea.
Making my first few moves off the ground, experiencing an old familiar fear as I reestablish trust in myself, my feet, and the 3mm of high-tech rubber helping me smear my way up ancient slab, I remember, that this is part of what I came for. Acknowledging the fear, I exhale slowly and commit myself to the familiar-forgotten rhythm of moving hands and feet up the rock, sinking into the awareness of each divot, each crystal, each magically sculpted edge. Clipping my first piece of protection and moving upward, gratefully aware of each feature's beauty and innate possibility for my upward progress.
At a good stance, with generous feet and a well-placed finger crack, I pause to scope out my next moves, a warm breeze blowing up from the Piedmont and across my skin. Looking down I see a black feather miraculously sticking out of a small down-cut crack, glimmering in the sunlight and soft wind. I realize this is what I came for.
I had fallen into the notion that learning and growth, that progress and building my practice happen at home, that I had to sacrifice parts of me, one to the other, as if they are distinct and separate. Yet at the core, what I am striving for is a purpose and a practice that is a holistic expressive of who I am, not just the assemblage of components of What I Do.
But standing on those edges, admiring the light playing off the quartz crystals and the rainbow of colors emanating from the prismatic Crow's feather vibrating in the breeze, I realized:
This is not what I do, this is who I am:
I am the wind and the feather.
And when I embrace Who I Am, in it's vastness, the What I Do can't help but to take care of itself.
This reminder, that is what I came for.
Finishing up an intense weeklong Swiftwater Rescue Instructor Training with Jim Coffey, an amazing multi-ninja of whitewater, rescue, instruction, with the rare, wonderful sort of hospitality that makes you feel more welcome even in your own backyard.
I feel beyond grateful for the high quality instruction I’ve received this past year. And while SWR instruction and coaching may at first seem like totally unconnected disciplines, what I’ve learned from these masters of their domains reveals much more in common than what was initially apparent.
Regardless of whether I was being taught the nuances of mechanical advantage or the finer points of the coaching arc, I noticed a few overlying qualities that profoundly and positiviely shaped my experience.
Whatever the subject, I’ve seen these folks share with a generosity of spirit the full breadth of their knowledge and experience, creating a feeling not of a transaction but of a gift, an offering. I’ve witnessed a consistency of character, that these people aren’t so much teaching curriculum as they are sharing a piece of themselves. I’ve felt these instructors bring their full selves to the material with a passion and unbridled enthusiasm that by sharing and learning these skills, we can make the world a better place.
So while in the course of these trainings, I’ve gained a lot of skills and taken in a lot of information, my biggest take away isn’t about any of the material itself, but instead relates to my intention for what I plan to do with that knowledge.
I intend to bring infectious generosity and passion, knowledge as well as my own personal experience, and my own unique hybrid blend of knowing and curiosity to each of my interactions, whatever the context.
I intend to pay it forward, share what I have received, and hopefully ignite Stoke! in others along the way.
Earlier this year, I brushed the dust off my pencil and started writing a blog, not knowing where it was going, and not needing to know either. The good thing about starting is there are no prerequisites of knowing: to start, we just start.
Since then I’ve given a lot of consideration to the questions of What it is, and Who is it for?
Having stumbled into a wormhole of reading a lot of the ironically classic writing-about-writing and the myriads and multitudes of articles about having a successful blog, content creation, and growing your brand/business, I found there is a dreadful amount of advice out there: 12 Key Steps to This, 7 Things to Know About That. I’ve read enough of it to know that I don’t want most of it. It’s not that it’s bad advice, it’s just other people’s advice, written by--and seemingly for--other people. If you want advice, you can save yourself some time and stop reading this.
I’ve given a lot of thought to voice and contribution. My voice and my contribution. The Peanut Gallery is all too happy to tell us what to do to be a success. Unfortunately, no one seems to pause to reflect on what being a success means. And I think I know why: Success is a highly personal term. It is each of our own privilege to define, and it is to our great advantage to do so. As one gal’s trash is another lady’s treasure, as my vacation might be your worst nightmare, so too may one person’s success be another’s nervous breakdown.
My voice and my contribution, and indeed part of my own rendering of success, is to cut thru the mounds of cookie-cutter advice. To offer an alternative perspective: that while yes, there is good information and choice tidbits to be gleaned from the flock of advice-givers, to make the leap from survival to our own thrival, the knowledge we seek resides in our own knowledge of self.
But wait! The Peanut Gallery screams from their perch high atop BlogLand. To be a success, you must Be An Expert!
I hear y’all, but I’m just not sure I’m buying that.
It’s the Information Age: the totality of human culture, information, and misinformation are all instantly available in the palms of our hands. It’s all out there already. Personally, I prefer to not spend my days and early morning twilight hours jostling about, elbows out, just to rehash, reshape, and respin information that’s already available, as The 3 Steps to Becoming an Expert suggests.
What I see is that we’ve collectively become lost in this Sea of Information. We’re drowning out here, clinging to the Experts’ Advice like so much flotsam amidst the floating wreckage. Amidst the deluge of external advice and information, it's easy to lose touch with the knowledge that resides inside us and comes thru us, our own creativity, and our individual and collective humanity.
What I hope to offer, what I aim to contribute, is a reminder of that humanity. A glimpse at my path towards my own self-knowledge. A view of my own internal insights as they dance their way thru the outer world. And, maybe, on a good day, provide a tidbit that reverberates with just one of you, that sings out to your innate wisdom, creativity and knowing. That it jostles awake a dormant piece of you yearning to paint, run thru a field, or stare at the stars. If in doing so, I can invite one person to move just a little bit closer in to their deeper self, well, that is my definition of success.
The people around us make a difference. As I ooze my way into the freelance world, I’ve intentionally been populating my surroundings with the goal of creating relationships of mutual support as we each face the inevitable challenges, hiccups, setbacks, and celebrations inherent to start-ups. I feel fortunate to have included myself in a weekly ‘mastermind group’ shared with some really great people.
Yesterday when we talked, when it was my turn to speak about my about the progress I hoped to make this week, I felt awkward, like I went to the right station, but got on the wrong train. The words coming slowly, lumbering, landing like spoonfuls of wet mashed potatoes splopped to the floor.
But as I listened to the other folks in the group talk, each of them dropped nuggets of knowledge that hit me like signal flares, lighting up the darkness around me.
Of course-- I can’t think my way to where I’m going.
It seems so obvious...now. I’ve driven the vehicle called grit till the wheels came off. Till I’m staring at my own mental and physical wheels gone cartoonishly far out of true.
That conversation turned the floodlights on for me: I had been struggling to build things in the dark. Not having much fun with it, and abusing myself over the difficulties and lack of progress. Somewhere along the lines, I settled into: Just. Do. The. Things.
Somewhere along the lines, I had forgotten to dance. I had lost the groove.
(This post's soundtrack. "god help us, help us lose our minds," at least the thinking part.)
I was losing track of the joy in my work. The stoke draining away and in its absence the vacuum claimed by a cocktail of fear with a shot of desperation floated on top.
Not backsliding: A new hole in a new place. But a hole all the same.
The end of my coach training looms on the horizon. So close I can almost taste it. But I hadn’t stopped to think about what it might taste like. The realization: Right now it tastes acrid and metallic. Fear, like a penny under my tongue.
You can hide anywhere if you want to. We are ninja disguise chameleons at our core. As it turns out, we can hide everywhere if we’re not careful. Even if it’s not what we want. The line is thin and it shifts and billows in the breezes, internal and external. What yesterday was showing up and being fully present is today’s place to hide. Last week’s learning and new experience is tomorrow's camouflage, known and comfortable. The same training program that each day and each week pushed me a little bit further into unknowns, discomfort and a new way of being so quickly, so insidiously, became a comfortable place to hide. Yet, as soon as I’m realizing this tendency, I’m watching my hiding place being dismantled from without and within brick by brick.
I didn’t come here to stay here. And this space and time wasn’t created for permanence. I can’t go home and I can’t stay there. And where I’m going, that is where the metallic taste comes in.
The advice and strategy provided by others can’t get me a step further. Not without my own internal advances. The new software won't run on the old hardware. I have to upgrade my own tech to get the results I want, and more importantly, to know when to run someone else’s program and when to toss it and write my own.
The reasons so many people I talk to keep taking various online marketing, business, or self-improvement seminars and workshops. one after another, or repeating them for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th times is that they are doggedly attempting to overlay the same external advice, strategy and format without systematically and intentionally working with their own interiors, their own operating systems. At their best, these programs force a deep internal dive, but at their worst, they give us a place to tether ourselves to the external world, and worse yet, give us another thing to beat ourselves up with, if and when, at the end of the process we don't feel any further along than when we started.
The same level of thinking that got me here isn’t going to get me a step farther. And we don’t think our way to the next level of thinking. The coaching and the work I did to get here can’t take me any further. I reached yesterday’s goals and let myself coast, but I reached the bottom of the hill and lost momentum. For the climb ahead of me, to get where I’m going now, I have to dive and drop back in, to my own interior depths, resources and knowing, to both stand on the shoulders of giants, and, be my own giant.
My experience doesn’t fit into tidy self-improvement bylines. What I have to say can’t be neatly packaged into the clear cut, easy-to-digest format currently popular for writing about personal growth. And it is that variability and nuance that most informs my own personal growth and expansion.
My past 6 months have been full value, vast and varied. I've experienced moments where I felt like a super-hero, periods of time with an unshakable clarity of purpose, weeks of seemingly endless energies, days riddled by doubts, the greater part of a month with lingering low energy and mood.
Running in the background throughout it all is striving for doing. Driven by an internal desire to grow, to create things, to make the world just a little bit better, and with the flames fanned by an external barrage emphasizing the doing:
Stand up and be seen.
The 5 secrets to X.
Find the others.
7 strategies for Y.
Go go go.
When the energy is high and the stoke seems endless, the doing comes natural. It flows forth as if from a mystical wellspring. It feels good. It's easy to sit back and say, "See! Look at all I'm doing."
But my experience is more vast and varied than that. For reasons I may or may not ever fully comprehend, my experience of being is fluid and variable, cyclical and seasonal. My mood and energy ebbs, my external productivity dips, yet the external song and dance remains the same:
Go go go.
The friction between these factors challenges my way of being. When things feel natural and the doing is easy, the being comes automatically and without question. But when the energetic tides recede, and the doing slows, it is the being that begs garners my attention as I simultaneously hold the notion of do.more.now alongside the awareness that today is different, today it isn't flowing.
The messiness of this experience shifts my focus and raises different questions. The don't hide notion reverberates in a different key. The notion arrives: today striving for doing is a place to hide from being. Raising the question: which is more important to me?
Such a simple and sometimes muddy question to answer. At my core, it is the being, and my own experience that trumps the doing. Doing is-- at its best--a way to the means of being. Yet it is so easy to get carried away, doing for its own sake.
We don't refer to ourselves as human doings, we are human beings. My experience of being is vast and immense. My experience of doing is smaller and more focused. When I become overly focused on doing, my sense of being becomes myopic as my experience narrows.
Trickling in with the persistence of water is the outside world. The notion that to be successful, we must focus on the 7 key X to achieve Y, that we must focus on the doing. And that as a coach, as someone whose goal is to lift others up, there is a distinct pressure to be up there, to have it all figured out, but that is not a complete view of my experience. As a coach, I endeavor to help people align with their own reality, but false notions about who a coach is and what a coach looks like, when unnoticed or unchecked, corrupt my motives, moving me to try to do something so that I might feel or be differently about myself and my present situation. The catch being that in doing so, I'm missing the chance in that moment to accept and align with my own reality.
So where does all this esoteric introspection get me? It brings the realization that the quest for doing, if left unchecked, will--when the weight of being feels heaviest--become another thing to beat myself up with and a distraction from being. It brings me to acceptance of life's ebbs and flows and a relief from always trying to change how things are.
This is full value living: The totality of the human experience; The immensity of being. This is what I came for: the immensity, the vastness of experience, Not just the 'good days,' type-1 fun, sunshine and full stoke.
These dips in energy and mood are the weather systems of my own personal eco-system, and by finding acceptance, the heaviness naturally, without striving without doing, begins to lift, my energy and mood rising a bit with it as well.
The key to getting smarter is not what you think
Modern neuroscience suggests that less than 5% of the information we process takes place north our jaw line. Think about that for a second. What does that mean for the other 95% of the information we take in and process? It is what is referred to as Embodied Cognition: cognitive processes occurring in the body.
What does this mean for our view and understanding of intelligence and thinking? It means we have a lot to learn, and that learning might not quite be what you think. In Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology (a great book, but you’ll need a big pocket), Dr Daniel Siegel defines mind as “an embodied and relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information.” According to the most cutting edge science, our mind is not just the thinking in our head, but also includes all the information we take in and process via all our senses and experiences as we move thru and interact with the world including others around us. Our body is constantly taking in and processing information via felt sensations thru our nervous system which is dispersed throughout our body. Our entire body is a bio-chemical-electrical network sending information back and forth from the brain that lives in our skull to the rest of our bodies, and the rest of our mind.
So why do we think that all our thinking and knowing takes place in the head? Oversimplification and old, outdated, incomplete science. What science is now telling us is that the overwhelming majority of information (over 95% of data) that we receive is processed in our bodies. Unfortunately, as a culture, we’ve largely stopped paying attention to what that data and our associated experiences are telling us.
The good news
The knowledge and application of the concept that our body is responsible for the vast majority of data processing in our bodies comes as really good news. The information that is processed in the brain tends, most of the time for most people, to be routed thru one of two processing centers: either the amygdala or the frontal cortex. The amygdala tends to get the stressful, life or death, fight or flight stuff, along with anything that we perceive as stressful (which is far too much in our modern, high tech, connected world, but I’ll save that subject for another article). Everything else tends to route thru and be filtered by the frontal cortex. The frontal cortex isn’t able to process very much information at a time (about 120 bits/sec-- for context, listening to someone else speak takes up about 60 bit/sec), and some of the available processing gets eaten up by the ego running as a filter, constantly chiming in with an opinion of what that incoming information means to me. So while the frontal cortex is good at problem solving and thinking, and is essential for survival, it doesn’t have a lot of power available from a data processing standpoint.
The good news is that by learning how to access and utilize the untapped majority of data processing power available and occurring in our body, we in effect get a huge upgrade to our personal tech. It’s like the comparable upgrade from going from a flip phone to the new iPhone. And it’s right there waiting for you to tune in.
What is the difference between the thinking that happens in our heads and embodied cognition, and how do we know which is which? We are all familiar with the notion of thinking. It’s largely our default mode of dealing with things and solving problems. Sometimes we roll our eyes upward, as if looking into our head for answers. We often tell ourselves and others, “let me think about that for a minute.” And that is what we do.
Embodied cognition, on the other hand, is a different experience. It’s the insight moment we get after we’ve decided to stop thinking about the project and go for a walk instead. It’s the gut feeling or intuition we might have. It sometimes presents as an internal sense of knowing, where we know that we know, but we don’t know how. It is a different experience, and over time and by giving it attention, we can develop an awareness of the felt sensations associated with it and how to glean what it is trying to tell us.
The ‘How To’ of Embodied Cognition
There are many ways to increase our awareness and the utility of our embodied cognition. You’ve no doubt discovered at least a few of them on your own. Many people have had the answer pop into their heads only after they stopped thinking about it. Albert Einstein claims to have never had huge, meaningful insight in the lab, that most of his greatest insights occurred while shaving. When I feel stumped, I’ll often go for a walk and more often than not, an answer will simply arise, often when I’m thinking about something else, or better yet, nothing at all.
Rich environments and experiences naturally help shift us into a state of embodied awareness. Being in the natural world floods our senses with experience. We feel the breeze on our skin as simultaneously see the dappled light play thru the rippling of the leaves in the tree tops. We hear the birds chirp and the interplay of wind and leaf. Smells from blooming flowers or fresh cut grass flood our sense of smell. The richness of the environment and the experience far exceeds the 120 bits/sec our frontal lobe can process, so out of necessity, we shift gears. The front lobe down shifts and internally we look elsewhere to process the fully HD stream of information coming in; we look to embodied cognition to process the information, make decisions, move thru space, and keep ourselves safe. When that happens, we’ve flipped the switch from flip phone to super-computer. Despite already processing the tons of data coming in from our environment, we still have plenty of processing power left over. Enough to instinctually (another term used to referred to embodied intelligence) jump back when we see a snake on the trail or bees swarming from a ground hive, or enough to instantly solve the project we were working on back in the office. That’s where insight occurs, that ah-ha moment that feels so good.
Besides getting outside into nature, there are a multitude of other ways to create our own rich experience without going outside. Anything that floods our senses, connects us to our bodies, or feels creative can be an effective way to tap into embodied awareness and cognition: playing or listening to music, dancing, yoga, qigong, focused breathing, any and all forms of exercise (jogging, weight lifting, etc), anything artistic (sketching, coloring, painting, etc), hula hooping, balance boards, water (a shower or even washing your hands), the list goes on.
All it takes to start cultivating the switch for our own inner super-computer is to dedicate a little time during your day to some of these activities. Go with what you enjoy, whatever excites you--as enjoyment releases the feel-good neurochemicals that help make new practices stick and become new habits. And experiment with others to find out what else you enjoy and what else works for you. And then, just trust and pay attention. Don’t try to force anything. Don’t over-think it. Just be patient, trust and let it happen.
As you start to incorporate these actions into your day, focus on consistency. It doesn’t have to be the same activity every day or to follow a rigid structure but try to intersperse some moments into your day where you bring your attention into your body and its felt sensations. Even something as simple as following the in and out of your breath in your belly works. So does drawing your attention into the points of contact where your body meets the floor and/or the chair. Over time, the patterns and the habits shift so that functioning from a more embodied state, where you are most effective, becomes less the exception and more the norm.
What this means for our day-to-day
By cultivating our skill at tapping into our embodied intelligence, we develop the skills to be more intelligent and creative. These skills can give us the an edge at work and the results are most profound as the complexity of the project increases. Problems and projects that are intricate and involved, that have too many details, parts and piece to keep it all in your head are where embodied cognitive skills really shine.You don’t have to keep it all in your head; instead flip the switch to embodied intelligence, bringing your super-computer online to find complex, novel, creative solutions. Often, when addressed from the workings of embodied cognition, these problems seem to almost solve themselves as novel solutions bubble up to the surface! If your work or passion is more creative in nature, embodiment practices and exercises help get you out of your head and into the flow so you can best create.
Turning embodied cognition back inside
While tapping into our embodied cognition can have powerful results for solving problems and devising creative solutions in our work or home lives, perhaps the most profound results come from applying this powerhouse of intelligence and awareness inwards. Coaching, specifically certain modalities, such as Presence-based coaching, focussing techniques, and other practices that bring awareness to the felt senses and somatic occurrences in the body foster the cultivation of embodied cognition in way that both benefits our problem solving and creativity, but also builds our knowledge of self, helping us be better informed in making the decisions that most closely affect our lives and our direct experiences. This knowledge of self that comes from embodied cognition differs from the egoic sense of self that most of us are accustomed to that lives in our frontal cortex. The egoic self is the storyteller: it strives to filter and tweak reality to fit into the storyboard that it created some time ago. The embodied self knowledge, when we learn how to access and acknowledge it, provides an unadulterated view of our inner reality. From this vantage point, we are able to gain clarity about what is most important to us, what makes us fulfilled, satisfied & happy, and how to make decisions that aligned with what we know to be most important to us.
While we know more than ever about the science behind accessing our greatest intelligence, happiness and satisfaction, much of the same access to technology that informs us also creates its own challenges when it comes to implementing and incorporating what we are learning. The prevalence of technology and being constantly connected creates a habit nature that, if followed blindly, keeps us in our heads, overstimulated, and can interfere with our efforts to cultivate embodied cognition.
In the information age, seemingly all the world’s information is available via a super-computer at our fingertips. Constantly stimulating our brains with external information creates habit forming behavior, triggering the release of addictive neurochemicals while ingraining connections in our brain that encourage us to continue and repeat those same actions. The tendency becomes to refresh and re-update our feed and to seek to find all the answers externally, ironically, in articles like these. (Yes, please, of course click the ‘Follow’ button, join my mailing list and keep reading, but, please, find your own healthy balance!)
With so much information available externally, why take the time to cultivate our own internal super-charged intelligence, cognition and knowing? Because there is so much that external sources can’t provide us: solutions to our own unique questions, outlets for our personal creativity, and answers to the deeper questions of who we are and what is most important to us.
In order to learn how to flip the switch of our own internal tech, that of tuning into the depths of the knowledge and intelligence held in our body, we also need to learn to flip the switches around us, powering down the silicon-based tech that inundates us. We need to consciously create space from our smartphone, computers and tablets and take time to dance, paint, walk in the woods, or even just tune in to the sensation of the water on our skin in the shower.
And as a Bonus!
Cultivating awareness of embodied intelligence has a lot to offer. Scanning the titles of many articles being posted lately, we seem to be collectively very interested in and motivated by being smarter, more creative, and better at problem solving. There are at least as many articles being published and read about how to be happier. The good news here is that in cultivating embodied cognition and incorporating some of these practices into your daily life, not only will you become smarter, more creative, and a more effective problem solver, but also, by shifting attention and energy from the head into the body, you draw attention away from the judgemental and self-critical part of the brain in favor of increasing knowledge of self, leading to making better you decisions and a happier, more content state of mind.
If you want more (external) information, check out these books: Daniel J. Siegel’s The Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology, Stealing Fire by Kotler & Wheal, and Guy Claxton’s Intelligence in the Flesh.
If you like what you read here, please consider signing up for my mailing list here & check out my website -- a work in progress -- at https://thegoodflow.net .
To experience Coaching and a one-on-one personalized approach to cultivating your own embodied cognition as a powerful tool to help you achieve your goals, answer your own deeper questions, and unlock your full potential, email me to schedule a free Exploratory Session and experience more.
Self-Reliance is important to me. It’s always been something that I value. And, I’m a Taurus: most folks say I’m stubborn, but to me it just feels like determination. These qualities used to pair together nicely for me: I could always claim my ‘stubbornness’ was just me being ‘self-reliant.’ Unfortunately, that tendency led to a rigid and habitual template for interacting with the world.
I’m not exactly sure where my drive for self-reliance comes from. It’s been there as long as I can remember. Perhaps it sprouted from time spent in wilderness, often alone, and knowing that I was responsible for my own safety out there. Ironically, being in the woods with other people, my default mode is to take on responsible those around me as well. Comically--and frustratingly, the notion that those same other folks might also carry some of the responsibility for my own well-being is often absent from my mindset.
Wherever this notion originated from, it somehow survived the transition back from the woods and then settled in as default mentality, framing how I moved thru the world at large. It worked for a while, taking me nearly as far as my own capacities and innate capabilities could reach. When I hit obstacles, instead of reaching out for help, I’d double down on stubborn reliance, get to learning (hey, it’s the Information Age, right? [Wrong actually, but we’ll come back to that…]*), and try to push my way thru. I framed it, thru my standard lense of ‘self-reliance,’ as building my capacities, of expanding my capacities. But what if the way I approached this so-called expansion was actually the very thing limiting the evolution of my increased capabilities and reliance?
The mentality of self-reliance is a powerful tool, one that had served me well. But like any tool, it has it’s time and place. And, the reality of the nature of humans as creatures of habit is that we tend to use whatever tool is in our hands to deal with whatever new problem just popped up. As a carpenter, I’ve seen a co-worker drive a loose nail with a cordless drill, simply because it’s what he was holding in his hand at the moment he saw it, even though a hammer hung at the ready in his tool belt. In the kitchen, I’ll admit to using an offset spatula to cut vegetables, because it was closest to me at the time, and to using a French knife to do things that are foolishly embarrassing to recall. My default setting of using self-reliance as the framework for solving whatever problem or challenge just comes up makes about as much sense as using a hammer to make an omelet.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” -Albert Einstein
Whenever we are looking at a problem, challenge, obstacle, or goal that is sitting in front of us, it is likely we may be using the same type of thinking that caused it in the first place.
So what are the better options?
For me, considering my automated revert to this style of thinking, a different option is to ask for help. When I first side-stepped my stubbornness and default mindset, it felt like turning my back on the reliance I highly, but habitually, value.
So I asked for help. It started with PT for a back injury that wasn’t getting better on it’s own. Which in addition to help me heal and get stronger and smarter, opened the door to asking for help lifting weights so I stopped injuring myself in the first place. Eventually that coaching in the gym inspired me to hire a life coach to help me kick ass outside of the gym in the rest of my life as well. Now I need help with design. I need to get better at self-editing. And I am asking for help.
What I have learned along the way?
I learned all the things that I expected, but it is what I didn’t expect to learn that has had the most impact on my day to day life. I knew working with experts would help me learn how to rehab an injury, how to lift correctly, how to get stronger without getting hurt, how to shake free of feeling stuck in a rut and the reach the clarity I needed to move forward with cutting my own path. What I didn’t anticipate, coming from my predisposition for self-reliance, is how much more self-reliant I would feel as a direct result of asking for help.
Working with professionals has given me the opportunity to learn so much more so much faster than I was ever able to learn on my own. I get the chance to see how and what they see, and to learn from their experience, expertise and unique world view. In the past, self-reliance led a painful amount of trial-and-error. It was slow going, often discouraging, and often unsuccessful. I abandoned at least as many projects as I finished. When I ask for help, when I work with professionals, people who are badass at what they do, the progress is better and faster than I ever anticipated, and I always walk away from the situation having gained much more than I expected. Every time.
And the best part: I haven’t turned my back on my self-reliance. I’ve just shifted the emphasis: instead of trying to be self-reliant today, I look at how my decisions have the opportunity to be more reliant in the future. When I choose to be self-reliant, I am now reliant on a better, smarter self. The mentality is still there and that mindset is still available. It’s just an available tool in a larger tool kit now, not the automatic choice or the only one I’ve got.
What are your default thinking modes? Are you using the right tool for the job? Or are you stuck using the same level of thinking that created your problems? How can connection and working with a pro help you unlock your inner badass?
* This isn’t the Information age. That was last week. The information age has paved the way for today and the Connection Age. Our ability to connect, not just to information, but to each-other, is the vehicle towards learning and building our own self-reliance and reaching towards our greatest capacities. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Don’t do it yourself. Do it smarter. Do it better. Self-reliance is good. But let’s stand stronger together.
Change is hard.
Change is scary.
Change is necessary.
Change is creative destruction.
Let’s do it anyway.
And if you want someone to tell you it isn’t, I may not be your guy.
My niche clients are unapologetically individual, unflinchingly unique. You don’t fit in a box, and you don’t appreciate other people’s efforts to put you in one. You have been frustrated, misguided & confused by other people giving you advice that doesn’t fit who you are. You’ve suffered a lifetime of people expecting you to be and act like other people, because that would be easier or more convenient for them.
You’re tired of playing by other people’s rules, written by and for other people.
My clients are tired of being shoved into other people’s generalizations and one-size-fits-all approach to life. They are ready to break free of other’s limiting assumptions and expectations, ready to be themselves, without asking permission. Is it time for you to strip away the layers of doubt and misguided, well-intentioned pseudo-advice that have soaked into you? Are you ready to explore what makes you unique, what makes you you and own the reality that your individuality, your free thinking, free spirited, creative uniqueness is your biggest asset.
There is no one else who can tell you what lies in your future or how to get there. I can’t answer those questions for you, and neither can your friends, family or loved ones. They love you too much be objective. And no one else knows what it is like to be you. You are the only one capable of finding these answers. But you don’t have to find them alone.
I am not one of those coaches peddling generic packages touting false claims. Those so-called “6 secrets to (insert superlative platitude of your choice)” might work for other people (though I’m not convinced), they might fit the mainstream, but frankly, for us, the one-size-fits all approach is frustratingly devoid of nuance, consideration & individuality, and fails to take into account that they don’t know a damn thing about who you are and what makes you tick.
Of course, there is no way they could do that. There is no way they could know who you are and what you need. But my question for you is:
Do you know who you are, and not just who you aren’t? Do you know what you need and what makes you tick?
I wont claim to have the answers. But I do have the knowledge, skills & desire to help you find out.
Creative Destruction: Golder Goldstein's Blog
Nearly every time I sit down to write, to create, something gets destroyed.