Conversation

How many actionable thoughts did you have today?

How many did you resist?

Of those you resisted, did your resistance stem from logic or fear?

Your nature is to act.

Resist the resistance.

Do the thing.

Go.

“Maximizing the benefits for the social media platform you’re on are different than maximizing the benefits for you and those you are leading.”

Seth Godin

The influencer dynamic plaguing modern marketing is shallow, but it sells units.

Influencers act as conduits for buyer’s attention.

Which at it’s core makes sense, right?

You see a cool Instagram page which represents your interests, and you follow it.

If they have a big enough following, brands who want to reach people interested in things relevant to the page reach out, and the page gets compensated for putting the brand in view of people likely to be interested in their products (aka you).

The problem is that these pages are usually compensated for their reach, not their quality.

The result is that influencers tend to race for cheap attention rather than fostering deeply engaged communities.

Those who hack the system to demand your attention get preference over those taking their time to foster communities – even when the former are wasting your attention in the process.

Influencing and leading are not the synonymous.

Influencers are out to sell your attention to the highest bidder.

Leaders are out to help you spend it wisely.

Sometimes the most creative thing you can do is spark inspiration into others.

It’s not the kind of work you always get noticed or thanked for, but the impact potential of inspiring others far exceeds the potential impact of any work you could do in isolation.

1 + 1 doesn’t always equal 2 because humans magnify one another.

Surround yourself with people who magnify the change you seek to make in the world. Even more importantly, make sure that you’re doing the same for them.

The first time a toddler attempts to lie is a huge psychological landmark.

While it might seem counter intuitive to be proud of a kid covered in crumbs while they’re promising they didn’t raid the cookie jar, it’s actually one of the first indicators that they have developed theory of mind.

This is the point at which a child realises that their thoughts, emotions, beliefs, intentions and perspectives are seperate from those of other people.

Almost unimaginably, this is not our default mode.

It doesn’t occur to a young child to lie, because their natural state is to assume that you already know what they know.

When a young child gets worked up over something seemingly trivial, it’s often because they don’t yet understand that the wants and needs of others can conflict with their own.

When there is a dissonance between what they are experiencing and what others are doing, they can’t process it. The result, as all parents will know, is an intense experience of pain and grief.

We begin our lives assuming that humankind shares a singular, unified consciousness and every experience we have from then on slowly proves us otherwise.

So slowly in fact, that even some adults default back to this mode when the views of others don’t align with their own.

When their cognitive expectations aren’t met, when the perspectives of others stray too far from their own beliefs and desires, it becomes too much to process. The resistance they feel gives way to tantrum in the same way a toddler spits out its dummy when nobody’s paying it enough attention.

There’s truth to Jim Rohn’s notion, “You’re the average of the five people spend the most time with.”

We really are. The things we do, stories we tell and even the food we eat is in many ways determined by the preferences and actions of those closest to us.

Which, in turn, are determined by the preferences and actions of those closest to them, and so on, and so on.

On a macro level, this is how cultures solidify. Unless you’ve got plans to pack up and leave, you don’t have much control over the culture you’re born into.

What you do control is who within that culture you choose to admire; those you wish to emulate, those you respect, and those you grant the gift of your trust.

Trust doesn’t transfer through blood or by law. It can only be earned.

Look around. If there’s someone close to you who you don’t trust with your future – what’s wrong? What needs to change?

There’s something spectacular about the first fully formed words which a child is able to piece together.

We all know the classics. My sister’s first (and still favourite) word was ‘No’. My partner’s first word was ‘Dad’, which she swears was a deliberate effort on her Mum’s part to make him feel specially requested by his little girl when her cries woke them in the night.

Mine were odd. At the time, I was obsessed with a little picture book full of animals and colours. My first words were from my favourite page, ‘Grey duck.’

If you, your children or anyone you know had an interesting first word, or were well trained to say something strategic, I want to hear it.

Moments like these are worth savouring.

My Jiu-Jitsu team, Legion 13, won the state championship last weekend for both the kids and adult competition.

In the week since, it’s been interesting to see how bound together everyone feels.

There’s a unity which shared success can generate which is infectious and highly motivating.

Like shared trauma, shared success brings people together.

Successful teams relish the relief of success together through shared pride. In order to be proud of the team’s achievements, one needs to be proud of themselves and also their teammates.

By definition, the team is larger than any one of the individuals which make it up. Great teams relate to one another as such.

The social benefit of this shared success compounds as the team does better and better; the more unified a team, the higher their chance is of succeding.

We have seen this in every era of every sport; mythical teams who found success and went on to seem undefeatable.

That’s all a bit grand for our local Jiu-Jitsu club, but the comradery and respect amongst team members this week has been a privilege to witness nonetheless.

If you’re not involved in some team activity, sporting or otherwise, it’s worth considering seeking out a tribe.

You might be surprised by how much can accomplished in unison with others.

Image via the Legion 13 Facebook page

We have a cognitive bias towards our own ideas, because we make them.

Partnering with people, or working in teams, is a step towards insuring against that bias.

That’s not to say your ideas aren’t good, you might just have a harder time picking the good ones from the bad ones than someone who doesn’t share your bias.

An even more compelling argument for teamwork is that finding good ideas requires a mass of bad ideas to be had and filtered through.

“The goal isn’t to get good ideas; the goal is to get bad ideas. Because once you get enough bad ideas, then some good ones have to show up.”

Seth Godin

If you’re working with a partner, the amount of ideas you generate doubles. This means you find the good ideas faster, and can work together to capitalise on them.

Don’t be afraid to make ruckus. Be honest when ideas are bad, especially when they’re your own. And commit to the good ones with everything you’ve got.

When was the last time something ticked you off? How easy was it for you to think up something to complain about?

If just thinking about it agitates you, how bad really was the thing? Bad enough to still be bothering you? Or is your agitation a reaction to the fact that you were agitated in the first place?

We all experience this experience mental chafing. It pops up any time our expectations aren’t met, and often continues to affect us well into the future.

Being anxious about the possibility of becoming anxious is an unfortunate cycle to get caught up in.

Consistently becoming annoyed about the fact that something annoyed you is just as dangerous.

“How much more harmful are the consequences of anger…than the circumstances that aroused them in us.”

Marcus Aurelius

When we think back on the times where felt annoyed, what we really mean is that our expectations of a situation were met resistance. But when we reflect on these times, we have another option; instead of thinking back with regret and frustration, we can look back with gratitude.

Resistance is feedback. From feedback, we can learn. Greet all opportunities to learn with grace, and our problems become gifts; puzzles which we can relish the opportunity to piece together.

Your boss dumping too much work on your plate towards the end of the week is only becoming frustrating because you’re been avoiding a conversation with them about it.

Stubbing your toe on the corner of your table only happened because you were in a rush.

The first step is to diagnose the problem, and the only other step is to act. If you can’t (or won’t) act, it’s time to change your expectations – because the problem doesn’t care how you feel about it.

Neither of these things are about fault, they just are.

Have that conversation with your boss, take more care walking around the table, and all annoyance is torn out from the root.

Or, if these aren’t actions you’re willing or able to take, then you simply have to accept that being overworked and occasionally having sore toes are parts of what it means to lead your life. If you’re not willing to have the conversation or build the habit, these are the natural consequences. Once you’ve accepted them, how could you possible expect them not to happen again?

If you’re annoyed, it’s usually because there’s something you’re avoiding, or something you can change.

Sometimes resistance is a cost for the things we do. If you’re consistently annoyed by the price, stop doing the things.

Going through the process forces us to realise that indignation is a choice.

We have a lot more control over our lives than it ever feels like we do, so we ought to take it.

Storytelling is how we learn right from wrong, and how we explain everything else in between.

It’s through the stories we tell to one another that we learn to relate; to care, love and understand.

Telling stories about ourselves is how we plan for our futures, while the stories told about us create legacies which sometimes transcend our deaths.

Without story, we’re just monkeys fussing idly in a concrete jungle.

To craft story is to be human.