Saturday, May 9, 2020

Where is Reverse?

"Chris, I'm stoked you want the Van at your house by the beach.  It makes a lot more sense than having it bake in the desert.  I'm going to miss it."

"Absolutely.  What all do I need to know about it?" he asked.

"Well, the rebuilt engine is perfect.  Everything works on the interior.  The A/C blows cold which is a treat with these old Vanagons.  But Chris, I have to tell you, there is no reverse."

"No reverse?  What do you mean?"

"Just that.  There is no reverse.  You can only go forward, so be careful where you park and think first before going anywhere that you might need to back up, because you can't.  There is no going back."

"Well, isn't that interesting..."

Is there a metaphor for life in there?  Can we ever go back?   I'm reminded of the quote that is attributed equally to Emerson, Holmes, and Einstein... "A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions."  How will your life move forward from this worldwide shared experience?



Saturday, May 2, 2020

Can I Commit without Certainty?

Find me anyone who could have predicted this current reality four months ago.  Go ahead.  And yet, here we are. It matters not whether you are a front line worker, an executive, an urban dweller or a rural rancher. I defy you to find anyone who would have said this was the way 2020 was going to play.  Okay, so what can we learn?

The future is uncertain.  In fact, it is always uncertain.  There is no such thing as certainty when we are predicting a future.  And, at this stage of life, I tend to go the other direction when anyone comes at me with certainty.  After this year, even Annie singing "the sun will come up, tomorrow..." has a very small question mark built in!  So, how then shall we live?

In 2019, when I was writing "Waking Up:  8 Questions That Will Shift Your Life (Or Help You Do Nothing)" I was not contemplating the sort of plate scraping that was going to come this year.  If you've read the intro to the book, you'll know that much of what had driven my adult life came to a screeching halt in 2006.  What I thought was a fairly predictable trajectory became a minefield of confusion and uncertainty.  So, back in the day, I started asking myself some good questions, lived through all kinds of transitions, and took about 13 years to put pen to paper.  And then 2020 hit.  And my plate is scraped clean in a whole new way.

The details at this point are less important to me than recognizing the difference between what I can do today versus what I cannot do.  There is a lot I can do.  And there is much that I cannot do.  This is true for most of us.  So, while my commitment to Good Self-Care remains, I'm not doing yoga classes at the gym or swimming laps at the pool.  I'm walking (a lot!) and getting on my mountain bike.  I tried video yoga classes but soon realized that a big draw to yoga for me was the social interaction with the familiar faces that go to my gym.  So, my commitment remains, but the actions change.  And, that's the beauty of commitments!  When I commit to a path, or a way of living, or a certain strategy, I don't need to know exactly how the action steps are going to line up.  I can trust that the answers will arrive as I stay true to the commitment.

Do Good Work is a commitment that falls under "Good Self Care" in my life.  Instead of creating flashy websites, podcasts, or selling products in my field, I've chosen to follow the path of good work.  Show up.  Do the gig.  Give clients the best I've got.  Move on.   I've believed that when I do good work, more work shows up.  And it's worked.  And then, the world paused.  All of my work went virtual.  I'm living in front of a Zoom screen supporting folks I've worked with over the past four decades.  Paid gigs have come to a virtual halt.  While not the ideal for me, it's not bad, and I'm giving it the best I've got.

One of the questions I've been asking a lot lately is, "What is the decision to be made today?"  Because, for many of us, there are precious few decisions that can be made in this moment.  We're on pause.  We've "eddied out" to use a rafting term.  We're in a Neutral Zone, to use William Bridge's "Managing Transitions" language.

The idle time might be a perfect time to become curious about my commitments.  New information (a worldwide pandemic!) has shown up.  How might my commitments change?  What commitments remain?  It's an opportunity to update the picture of myself and try out some new things without making big sweeping long-term decisions.  The world will evolve forward.  It always does.  There is no "Reverse".

So, even in this time of uncertainty, I am finding that I remain committed to be a man of curiosity, with a spirit of adventure and creativity.  I remain committed to a life of good self care and authentic connection with myself and others.  I don't need to know how it will all play out (But, damn, I wish I did sometimes!) and I do know that I will continue to choose my next steps in alignment with those commitments.  How about you?



Am I Listening?

A while back, someone said to me, “Wow, Vince, you’re such a good listener!”  It made me wonder what it’s like to be a bad listener!  So, I ...