So, about those crates. Also, Socrates

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2014 has been the most uncertain, hardest, intense, and illuminating year of my life. And with a few¬†hours to go, we’re not even done with it yet ūüėČ

I have grown in ways I could not otherwise have imagined or anticipated.

And it’s been the best year of my life.

Some people live their entire lives, never having the opportunity to know themselves.

I felt like I’ve had a pretty good understanding of myself, for awhile.

But the past 19 months, and particularly these last 12 have enabled me to see much more of myself.

I was looking at a lot of surface stuff for far too long. Taking stock in what I thought I saw, rather than what was behind all of that. And asking and answering questions that didn’t matter.

It wasn’t until I started to give myself time and space to think, that I started making progress. And it wasn’t until I started to focus my writing, daily, that the speed at which I progressed increased multi-fold.

When I was in high school, this thing called the internet was all the rage. Thanks to email and AOL IM, my sister and I inadvertently produced more than our fair share of busy signals for people calling our house.

At the time I also started to write on a BBS/message board (hosted by the Section 2 Harrier site, created and moderated by a nice guy named Jon Broderick) that kept (and continues to keep Рgo Jon!) all cross country / track and field fans in our corner of New York State apprised of important news. It was also a very cool forum where some decided to talk trash. I took it as an opportunity to share ideas and reflect on things I was seeing, and I was exposed to a new way of developing meaningful relationships.

I have given credit for awhile now to email, instant messaging, and the section 2 harrier message board for helping me to develop my writing voice at that time.

The hours I poured into emails and online conversations enabled me to develop my identity and to engage in meaningful conversation with others.

Writing was my outlet to the world.

I finished out high school with a healthy understanding of myself, ready to move forward.

And I continued writing in the early days of college.

Until I slowly turned my priorities elsewhere.

Though a move back to America last year (May 2013) was a natural segue* into a¬†return to regular writing dates. From the beginning, I came down with a serious case of “writer’s block” or was giving into my perfectionist tendencies in those early days¬†back in America.

Maybe I should have accounted for that after a decade away of sharing writing like this with others?

It was then I realized I needed a new space to find my voice. Here, a new blog, seemed a worthy spot to do so.

Not long after my irregular blogging began, during my time at the East-West Center‘s¬†Asia Pacific Leadership Program (APLP) in Honolulu to close out 2013, we all had to put together a portfolio, a collection of mostly written reflections – thoughts about the past, present, and future. It was time to make something with a real timeline, deadline, and commitment. 4 months and 100 pages later, I was working off a bit of momentum.

But 2013 ended and 2014 began in the midst of uncertainty. Uncertainty doesn’t need to be a negative thing, and hindsight is 20/20, but much of my problem was my choosing fear over love.

Sure, it was masked by “uncertainty.” But I was still a bit uneasy about my identity. I was trying to please someone I loved, but how could I please her without communicating, without pleasing myself, and by not even being me – that guy she loved. I¬†was going about it in all the wrong ways.

I knew there was a problem. Actually, I was drowning, but it looked like I was a pretty good swimmer.

I was doing my best to figure “it” out. And I was failing, miserably.

Ultimately it just looked like I was a problem that needed fixing, not there was a problem that we needed to fix.

It takes two to tango, but I’m not sure either of us really knew how, we didn’t really practice, and we had no teacher. I felt very alone. Maybe she did too?

I tried to reach out. But my message must not have gotten through to her. And her messages? Well, I wasn’t getting them either.

Missed messages like ships passing in the night?

I knew I couldn’t solve old problems in the same ways ¬†and I thought I was doing everything that I could. But it wasn’t working so I had to keep trying.

I was lost, but I found trust in my notebook and bic pen. It went far beyond my regular note-taking, by taking notes of deeper thoughts and feelings and fleshing them out until I could better understand whatever was on my mind.

Writing was no longer an outlet to the world, but an inroad into my soul.

Have you visited lately? It’s a pretty deep place.

Terrible one-lines¬†aside, these deep conversations that extended into the depths of my soul, mediated through writing, have been a significant reason why I’ve had an incredible year.

I’m sure it’s not for everyone. And it won’t necessarily help you in the same way it helped me. But at a time when I needed greater clarity, it was the writing that was there for me.

No person, no matter how close they were to me – my parents, my sister, my closest friends – could help me. This one I had to start on my own before I could get back to a place of confidence, a place of greater understanding, a place where I had regained my identity.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to hold yourself back. It harder to realize that you are usually the one doing the holding.

Whether it’s beliefs, behaviors, or certain actions that are self-limiting, we can do a number on ourselves often thinking that if external circumstances would change, things would be¬†better.

How might you make a difference in the lives of those that matter to you by starting with yourself?

When will you set aside some time for a constructive and thoughtful conversation with yourself? Find that time and space to work out your thoughts? To rediscover – perhaps even discover – things about yourself you haven’t seen in awhile (or have never seen)?

What questions are important to think through? What questions should you be asking of yourself? What suggestions might be made?

Be the sounding board that you need the most. But remember, it will only work if you choose to be honest, to lay it all out there, and to lead with love, not fear.

When it comes to the things (or thing) that matters most right now to me, I’m certainly not out of the woods.

But these days I know myself more than ever before.

And, as a result, I’m much better prepared to deal with the uncertainty.

So, goodbye 2014. Thank you for being so good to me.

And 2015, I’m eager¬†to see where we go together.

—–

*So, when segway came up as a misspelled word, I did a little investigating on how to write the word that I know to indicate something related to a transition. Apparently this word is an Italian derivative and thought pronounced “segway” is written “segue.” You can take a look here to see what some have to say about this.

Today’s photo comes from my personal collection – the notebook and the pen that started it all this year.

This notebook actually dates back to my first year at college. I gave up notebooks in favor of recycling wasted computer paper from the libraries to make homemade “notebooks.”

I thought it was about time to make sure this one went to good use. It served me well in the early writing days this year – from ideas to The Oliver Chronicles and beyond.

Improv for All-Timers and at All-Times

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Even before I realized Babci’s memories were leaving her for far off lands, I heard an incredible segment on an episode of This American Life (532: Magic Words) over the summer.

It was a story of a couple living with their mother, who was living with Alzheimer’s.

The story was wrought with challenge – it’s tough to see someone you love, the person who raised you, who you always looked up to, who always took care of you, not only no longer able to take care of themselves, but to forget you.

You who now are taking care of them.

When you’ve shared so many memories over the years – people and places, food and fun, ups and downs, and many more – how could they forget? They meant so much to both of you.

And sometimes the strangest things come out of their mouths. Something crazy if not just plain wrong!

Who wants to hear all the time how they can’t remember anything? How wrong they are? This isn’t the way to do that! Why can’t you …?

Though it must only get harder when the person who you are working so hard to be so patient with shows no recollection of, nor patience with, you.

But what if you took whatever they had to say at face value?

What if you went with the flow and joined them where they were, with what they were doing? (How ’bout those monkeys!)

What if you believed what they were telling you, as much as they believed it themselves?

Sometimes we budget the least amount of patience to those closest to us, especially when we assume they should know something or do something or [______] something.

But it’s not just with our loved ones with Alzheimer’s that we do this with. Nor just our¬†loved ones.

It’s easy to do this with the many we people know and many others we don’t.

Improv is about responding in the moment, not reacting.

It’s about going with the flow. It’s about laughing, a lot. It’s about not being afraid to make¬†a mistake and not pointing a finger at others when they falter.

In fact, mistakes don’t exist. It’s all just a matter of circumstance.

What was just said? What was just done? How will we respond? What will we do next? How does the scene end up in the end?

We could just as easily put a negative bend on the above questions as we could a positive one.

But the spirit of improv is about opening our mind to possibilities. Testing out unknown waters. Believing you (and those with you) can. And always giving it another go.

What if we embraced improv in our daily lives? How might your life and the lives of others be enhanced with a slightly different mindset and approach?

What might it take for you to start to share the improv love at home*?

—–

Karen Stobbe (Karen from the 20 minute episode, which is definitely worth a listen)¬†offers workshops on how to use the tools of improv with people who have dementia. She also has this interesting .pdf on the¬†Parallels of Alzheimer’s and Improvisation.

*Karen also introduced me to this quote via her website in the moment:

‚ÄúIt is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.‚ÄĚ – Mother Teresa

Today I Google’d “Alzheimer’s” and found the photo you see above.

The article is actually from MTV.com and encourages us to take action on Alzheimer’s. It even links to the 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s¬†page that I saw on a commercial last night.

Coincidence?

All-Timers with Alzheimer’s

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My Grandmother, we call her Babci (bop-chee: bop rhymes with top; chee as in cheese), has dementia.

Babci and I¬†had lunch today¬†at Friendly’s in Utica*. It was strange and wonderful all at once.

And it made me wonder whether all lunches should end with a sundae with a cherry on top. Senior citizens really know how to live it up ūüôā

Living away in China for the years that I did, I missed quite a few family moments. And now that I’m back in the US, I’ve done my best to join in for as many as possible. This is one of those moments.

There’s a lot that Babci forgets these days. But that’s okay. I forget a lot of things too.

Though since her 90th birthday back in March, it’s incredible how quickly, and noticeably, Babci’s mental state has declined.

It’s stunning, actually. I was so impressed at her birthday party. A 90-year old woman, still very much on top of her game.

But these days she has no idea who I am. She doesn’t remember my sister, or any of her other grandkids.

In fact, given our lunchtime conversation today, she doesn’t even remember my Mother – someone who calls and comes out to see her regularly. She remembers her son, but doesn’t seem to always call him by name. Carol (my Aunt) seems to be the last remaining name her memory bank.

I suppose it makes sense. They live just around the corner from each other and see each other daily.

Actually, over the past few months, you wouldn’t believe the number of times Babci has described to me how to get from her house to or from Aunt Carol’s.

But she describes¬†it well, and I don’t mind hearing it. It’s a beautiful thing to see how her face lights up each time she makes the final zag with her fingers, “…and we’re there!”

So many of us take our memory for granted.

Babci seems to be extremely proud of these things she remembers well – like how to get between her and Carol’s house or stories like the one about how she¬†and Grandpa (Dziadziu) moved into their place on Noyes Street. We reviewed that she’s been living in her house for 63 years at least 3 times today.

What if we treated our memory like a gift rather than a given?

What if we were a bit more understanding when someone re-told us a story that excited them, even if we’d heard it before?

What if we were a bit more understanding when someone that mattered to us forgot about something that mattered to us?

What can we learn from interacting with the people closest to us with dementia / Alzheimer’s that we can apply to all the other people in our lives who have moments of forgetfulness?

Memory is still very much a mystery to me. And parts of me wish that I could remember more than I do. But, you know what, my grandmother no longer remembers who I am. And that’s okay with me.

Today may have been Babci’s and my last supper.

Over the course of 90 minutes we had the same conversation a handful of times. Many of the same questions from her. And I did my best to improv with my answers.

But we laughed. A lot.

She may not remember what we talked about five minutes ago – along with all the other stuff¬†– but she sure hasn’t forgotten her sense of humor, to laugh at herself, or to crack a joke.

Though today Babci didn’t need her memory to¬†remind me of one of the all-time greatest lessons I’ve learned about compassion.

Is it more important to remember and be right or to remember to be who the other person needs you to be in that moment?

And laugh, as much as you can. Because when all else is lost, we’re never lost in laughter.

—–

*For all of you playing the Upstate NY game [*ahem*, Camille], Utica is in Central NY.

Today’s image came from the google search “memory” and the UCLA Longevity Center’s Memory Training page.

The Business of Relationships

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A friend recently lamented to me that she wished men could treat relationships like they would a business deal.

In business, is it common practice to talk nice with a potential business partner over the course of a few dates then vanish into thin air?

When you’re not interested in the deal, you’re honest and upfront about it.¬†No need string anyone along.

Besides, stringing someone along in a business context, choosing to act without open and honest communication, could be bad for your reputation.

And future business.

The world is small, whose to say though today’s business deal didn’t work out, there isn’t an opportunity for other ways to collaborate down the line?

But my friend has encountered a number of guys who apparently aren’t in the business of open and honest communication.

What happened to meaningful cliches like honesty is the best policy? Or the truth will set you free?

I can’t blame her, though, in our relationships with the potential “one”, it’s easier to stick our heads in the sand or to run away than it is to be honest about how we feel and work through those challenges together.

I’ve done it. Actually, I’m a repeat offender.

This was actually what my 21 days of writing in November evolved into. It was the first time that I did not stick my head in the sand, or run away.

It was the first time I sat down with myself and faced my fears deep within myself for an extended period of time. It was not a one-off conversation, I made it my business for those three weeks. And I committed to making a habit of being vulnerable.

It was the first time I was able to be completely open and honest with the “one” about all my problems.

And trust me, I have a handful.

But as long as we’re being open and honest with each other, I know you do too. We all do.

I suppose the only thing that sets us apart are the people who are honest with themselves about their issues and those that aren’t.

But that’s too easy isn’t it?

Let’s step back for a second and re-think for a moment. How many types of us are there?

First, there’s the people who are honest with themselves AND with others about their issues. A rare breed.

I wonder how much of us actually reach this nirvanic level of self-awareness, self-understanding, and vulnerability?

Second, there’s the people who are honest with themselves, but may not be confident enough to share this with others.

Third, there are the people who know their issues, but may not have found all of them. Or maybe they have yet to realize just how those issues affect them.

This number three speaks most to me, that’s where I was earlier this year.

Fourth, there are the people who have figured themselves out, and everyone else out. It can be such a challenge to wait for others to figure themselves out. Life will be better when that happens.

Who did I miss?

So this friend of mine has been sending me these great articles on marriage that I’ve been totally digging.

The one that kept me up last night and has me still thinking today you can find here.

It’s an absolutely brilliant read, if you choose to read with an open mind.

Here’s the skinny (i.e. the first three reasons¬†Why We Will Marry the Wrong Person):

One: We don’t understand ourselves

Two: We don’t understand other people

Three: We aren’t used to being happy

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

All of us are crazy in very particular ways. We’re distinctively neurotic, unbalanced and immature, but don’t know quite the details because no one ever encourages us too hard to find them out.

A good partnership is not so much one between two healthy people (there aren’t many of these on the planet), it’s one between two demented people who have had the skill or luck to find a non-threatening conscious accommodation between their relative insanities.

The problem is that knowledge of our own neuroses is not at all easy to come by. It can take years and situations we have had no experience of. Prior to marriage, we‚Äôre rarely involved in dynamics that properly hold up a mirror to our disturbances. Whenever more casual relationships threaten to reveal the ‚Äėdifficult‚Äô side of our natures, we tend to blame the partner ‚Äď and call it a day. As for our friends, they predictably don‚Äôt care enough about us to have any motive to probe our real selves. They only want a nice evening out. Therefore, we end up blind to the awkward sides of our natures.

One of the greatest privileges of being on one’s own is the flattering illusion that one is, in truth, really quite an easy person to live with.

With such a poor level of understanding of our characters, no wonder we aren’t in any position to know who we should be looking out for.

This problem is compounded because other people are stuck at the same low level of self-knowledge as we are. However well-meaning they might be, they too are in no position to grasp, let alone inform us, of what is wrong with them. Naturally, we make a stab at trying to know them. We go and visit their families, perhaps the place they first went to school. We look at photos, we meet their friends. All this contributes to a sense we’ve done our homework. But it’s like a novice pilot assuming they can fly after sending a paper plane successfully around the room.

If the title wasn’t enough to reel me in,¬†then I can definitely confirm I was hooked after the first line. And I couldn’t stop reading after reading why we don’t understand ourselves – or others.

But, please, before you go any further with what I have here, please open this up in a new tab and read from start to finish.

I wish I could say that anything I write beyond this point could match the level of, “How We End Up Marrying the Wrong People.”

I regret that might not be possible.

But I won’t stop without trying.

This selection¬†got me back to thinking about my friend, business, relationships with the “one”, and the business of relationships.

Having learned much of what I know in business much like how I’ve learned the most important lessons in life – trial by fire – I’ve come to know that before we get too far into the conversation, the best business deals I’ve done include an early conversation about all the bad stuff that can, might, and/or will happen.

Funny, in romantic relationships we don’t want to touch this topic with a 100 foot pole.

And why not hit these challenges head on?

Knowing what I know now, this is probably one of the most informative and intimate conversations you can have with a potential “one” and could do incredible things for mutual understanding and empathy with such a proactive approach to problem solving.

I’m having a hard time imagining a conversation that could be more meaningful.

Even if we are super self-aware and think of ourselves as highly empathetic, it’s a lot easier to express empathy when you have more information than less.

It’s also a lot easier to express empathy while calm, cool, and collected rather than under stress and duress.

This may come natural to some of us,¬†but I’ve only been able to improve through preparation and practice.

So if you haven’t already,¬†Read This. And share it with someone that matters to you. I’ve already shared it with my family.

And now I’m sharing it with you.

I’m curious, what do you think?

—–

And if you’re already tired from reading, take a look at the video below (4:00), it’s almost (or equally) as excellent.

—–

This was my first time on The Book of Life site. I’ll definitely be back for a return visit some day, sooner than later.

At first I had a different picture in mind, but then I got to thinking about vanishing. I came upon this quote by John Quincy Adams from this page on Pinterest that seemed to put a twist on the relationship between patience and perseverance,  disappearing and vanishing.

The running away model of vanishing cannot hold a candle to how difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish when one is patient and perseveres with what and whom matters most to them.

21 days of writing taught me that. And it’s remarkable how the difficulties and obstacles of yesterday almost no longer seem relevant, even exist.

Think I’m crazy? Give it a try yourself. A true, concentrated effort. You might surprise yourself. I know I did.

Ripe for Resolution

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This is not a new year’s resolution. This is just the right time.

As I’ve just gotten my “new endeavor” underway (i.e. my 60-day writing challenge), today I got to thinking about how many new endeavors are actually new.

It’s a little bit embarrassing to say this out loud, but I’ve been “working” on becoming a daily writer¬†for the better part of two years.

I write every day. Many of us write every day.

But it wasn’t until my 21-day writing challenge last month¬†that I made the day-in-day-out commitment to focus my practice.

I wrote every day, twice a day, to someone about something that mattered.

None of it was new, in fact much of it was old stuff. I just chose to look at and approach it in a new way.

It was incredible how it opened me up to parts of myself that I had not reached through regular verbal communication.

And it enabled me to find clarity within myself through the articulation of thoughts and feelings that I have not been able to articulate in a long time, if ever.

So while I don’t think new year’s resolutions work for me, I’m all for resolutions in general.

I do think they work provided the time is right – or ripe – to be resolute about something.

Speaking of peaches – did you know most varieties are only ripe for about 2 weeks?

Could that be just the right amount of time to make some progress on something ripe that matters to you?

2014 has been a hard year. It has also been the best year of my life.

Those 21 November days of writing brought me great clarity in heart and mind.

While I didn’t know exactly where I was going when I started, I was ripe for resolution in that moment.

And, as a result, I started and ended 2014 in radically different mindset.

After a month of digesting those¬†thoughts, I’m eager to see where this 60 day cycle will take me.

But this isn’t only about me. What about you?

What have you been waiting for that’s ripe for resolution?

What have you been hoping will happen next?

And how do you move that mindset from hope to make it happen?

What is that one thing – that one step – you can do or take today to move forward that hope?

Think of where you’ll be in a few days when you take a step each day.

The time is right, so why not start today?

Then continue tomorrow. And we’ll see where we’re at the day after, okay?

Need a hand? Take mine. We can take a walk forward together.

—–

Today’s image is more delicious than usual because when I think of ripe, I think about my favorite fruit.

And I don’t think of apples from New York or oranges from Florida, I think of peaches from South Carolina.

The photo linked me to an interesting episode of All Things Considered on NPR, Sweet Lessons from a South Carolina Peach Professor.

There were too many good quotes from this interview, but I love when¬†Clemson University peach specialist, Desmond Layne advised us, “To pick a perfect peach, obviously you need to pick it off the tree yourself.”

And aside from giving credit for the picture above (courtesy of iStockphoto.com), do listen to those sweet lessons from Desmond Layne. I could practically see him fall down, blown away by the flavor of the Winblo he bit into.

But maybe you’d prefer a visual aid. If so, see below.

Have you had a piece of fruit that dripped off your elbows lately?

60

60

60 is a significant number in time.

For one there are 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in an hour. These are the basic building blocks for the cycles by which we live our lives.

Moving beyond the basics, 60 years is a significant milestone in China.

Some might say once you’ve hit 60, you’ve done it all. You’ve spun around the zodiac wheel five full times, matching your zodiac animal with each of the terrestrial elements – earth, wood, fire, metal, and water.

In other words, it is both the end to a full cycle and the beginning to the next.

Cycles are about rhythm. Writing too.

It takes discipline and patience to write everyday.

Since I started writing in this Finding My Voice Here (FMVH) format,¬†I haven’t been disciplined or patient.

And today is the day to make a change.

I’d like to say I will write everyday for the whole year. But I haven’t had great success with goals like this in the past.

“You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.”

This line attributed to everyone’s old friend Albert Einstein is one of those quotes that gets regularly tossed around. Perhaps for good reason.

It’s time to adopt a new mindset and new strategy on a project I’ve struggled with since coming back to America in May 2013.

But today is a new day.

And the future is not yesterday, last week, last month, or last year.

I have a choice and will have that¬†choice to write, everyday. I can’t wait to see where I get to after my 60 day cycle.

For me, it will be a significant milestone.

Over the last year I experimented a couple times with 21-day exercises.

The first time in the Spring I failed. The second one in November I succeeded.

Discipline is what that took. A clear ranking of priorities. And more time than I expected.

But isn’t that true of anything worth doing?

Seth Godin sings this tune of daily habits and discipline – showing up day after day, working on something that matters, and shipping it! – almost to the point of being a broken record.

But the thing is, no matter how (or how often) he brings it up in conversation, it is never any less true.

Besides, have all of us followed through on making that concentrated day-in-day-out effort on our work we say matters?

Perhaps it’s worth playing on repeat then, just like the song you may be obsessed with in this moment.

What have you been waiting to do that you could start on today?

Here’s to the start of a new cycle – for you, for me, for us.

See you tomorrow.

—–

Today’s photo came attached to a blog post about what it means to be 60.

I’m always amazed to find out where the images I like take me.

Lessons about life, love, and loss from the lips of an angel is not what I was expecting with a sign that looks like it could belong on the side of a road.

But, the result – a few life learnings that might just be worth a gander.

Managing Measurement – Just a Numbers Game?

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You’ve heard people tell you this before – you may have even told yourself this before: you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

So what’s so different about this mantra today over any other day?

Nick Ganju, that’s what’s different.

Over the past few months I’ve developed a taste for the podcast world. And while I still need to write about the podcast that has made me into a semi-rabid fan of the medium (thank you Alex Blumberg, Startup Podcast, Matt Lieber, and Gimlet Media!), I have my buddy Hsu to thank for introducing me to Tim Ferriss‘s experimental podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, at a time where there were a few episodes out there with things¬†that I needed to hear.

This morning I listened to two excellent inbetweenisodes and then happened upon the Nick Ganju conversation.

I’ve been intimidated by math, numbers, stats, etc. for as long as I can remember. Unlike Tim, while I had some a great teacher in 10th grade (and beyond), I just always had a tough time getting my head around that stuff. And I completely gave it up when I got to college.

These days,¬†even though I’ve come to be a believer in data-driven approaches to decision-making, that doesn’t mean I’ve always been equipped to determine what should be measured on the way to reaching goals and supporting dreams to come true.

Because if there’s one thing that should accompany the mantra, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”, its that, “Not all data is created equal.”

These are the kind of things I appreciate talking through with others. It’s not only for the purpose of bouncing ideas and getting to a better place as a team, but also to move beyond my own numerical insecurities. Sometimes we all just need a little hand-holding.

Although there are many great things within this conversation including a note on the probability of one sharing a birthday with another (if interested in this, see below), it was two lines that encouraged me to immediately write this reflection.

“The big secret of mathematicians is that everyone started from 1 + 1 = 2 and built their way up. Each step is not a big step once you understand the previous step.”

How often do we make things much more complicated than they need to be?

How often do we take steps without truly understanding the previous step?

And how often do we measure things that actually don’t matter in the context of what we’re looking or aiming for?

Let’s go¬†a bit further on this.

You’ve heard of SMART goals, yes? Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely goals.

But do we take the time to make projected assumptions based on specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely criteria? (Or should I have asked if we make any type of project assumption?)

Do we follow-up to compare assumptions with the actual results? When and if we do, do we explore how they compare and seek to understand why we’ve arrived at the results we have today?

For all the time we put into the things we believe matter, why do so many of us not put in the due diligence and/or the right structure for a more appropriate framework by which we can judge whether we succeeded or not?

“Lose weight” vs. “Lose 10 pounds in 100 days” is a very simple version of this. We have these “goals” without anything to hold us accountable – be it to ourselves or others.

But generally speaking,¬†in business and in life, many of us just decide on “goals” (myself included). We haven’t done the underlying math. Or really enough structured thinking about it.

It’s great to have goal, but then you need a plan to execute. And the¬†follow-up, the accountability piece, might be just as important than the original goal.

Besides, how do we know if we get there / don’t get there? How do we choose if it’s a good idea to keep going or stop?

So I’m a perfect example of someone who has fallen into this lack of specificity and due diligence in setting goals.

Actually, it’s only been recently that I’ve finally felt the confidence to even set and articulate these goals to myself.

It got me to thinking, how can we articulate out-loud and to others if we can’t¬†even tell ourselves?

Even more dangerous, what happens when what we tell ourselves is not honest?

Though this is tricky.

Because even when we think we’re being honest with ourselves, sometimes, we’ve elected to not do the due diligence in thinking about¬†what really matters.

Do we know what motivates us to do what we do, on the road to going where we want to be?

One last quote from Nick, “The mark of intelligence is to learn from your mistakes and change your attitude about things.”

I thought I was quite good at this before. But maybe that was my problem.

At my most unsuccessful, it was usually because I knew the problem and solution rather than seeing myself as part of the problem and the solution.

I recognized a need for a change in my attitude on certain things. This has taken space. This has taken time set aside for active thought and reflection.

Only by taking a step or two (or three or more) back have I been able to move forward with a renewed sense of confidence.

You know what it was, I was afraid of “the wrong answer” before. Of “making a mistake.” While this wasn’t with everything, it was with the biggest most important things in my life.

Intelligence for me started to become less about knowing the answer and more about finding the answer with the people interested in the same or similar questions.

Besides, if I believed there was only one answer or way of doing things, then I’d just be deceiving myself.

How about you, what mistakes have you learned from lately?

And beyond just knowing these mistakes, did you give yourself the space to reflect and allow for your attitude to change?

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Hear more from Nick and Tim’s conversation here.

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Happy-Birthday

Interested in the birthday vignette mentioned above? You came to the right place.

At around 21:00 minutes Tim brings up the birthday problem / paradox as a part of their discussion of probability.

When there are 367 people in a group there is 100% probability that 2 people will have the same birthday. Easy, right?

More surprising, though, might be that in a group of  23 people there is actually a 50% probability.

Nick pointed out that it’s not that one of those 23 people could walk around and ask the other 22 if they have the same birthday and likely find a match, it’s that any two of those 23 people could have the same birthday.

What happens when data is presented a bit differently? And how do we start to see the world, the issues around us, and ourselves differently?

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Today’s images –

Numbers – from designer and animator giada_ghw, which I found on the Continuous Business Planning site. giada_ghw has some other fun cartoons on there, as well.

Happy Birthday Рfrom the Soylet blog of all places. Posted by user gambit.

Google image searches sometimes take me to the most unexpected places.

Astronomy (on Tap) is Out of This World

Last Monday I went to find something new at the Astronomy on Tap event at Bar. Also, some pizza.

I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere, jokes and puns abound, and just how relate-able the entire evening was to even the most average of minds (*ahem*, like mine).

Beyond funny questions people like Michael Faison will ask his students like, “How many martinis could you make from this cloud?” I had two major takeaways that I’d like to remember.

1) We are not who we were yesterday. The same is true of our interests and understanding of the world. (Michael Faison)

The world is always changing, as are we. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that. No matter how big or small, old or young. And to keep this in context, the youngsters out there (in the star world, that is) are 1-2 million years old. Wow. And speaking of…

2) Stars cluster when young and spread out when they age. (Jonathan Foster)

This got me thinking – perhaps we humans are not so different from our starry counterparts. We do practically the same thing in our young – we are clustered, spending time with larger groups of people. And as we age, we spread out.

Do you feel the same way?

If you’re interested in a little bit more of a synopsis of the evening, take a look at this article from the New Haven Independent or AstroOnTapCT on Twitter.

And a thanks to Steph LaMassa for putting together such an interesting and accessible event for people who are well out of their league when it comes to things out of this world.

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No photo today. I already made a nice little faux-pas on Twitter when I mixed up Astronomy and Astrology. If you’re not quite sure of the difference, take a 2 minute look here.

Though the quick story – Astronomy is about things that are out of this world. Astrology is about those things that are out of this world and how they affect us on Earth.

Honest Liars and the Psychology of Self-Deception

We all know that honesty is the best policy. So when was the last time you were honest with yourself?

It’s a rare moment when I don’t feel like talking or engaging with anyone or anything.

Today was a bit too full-on. I came home thinking I was ready to call it a day.

And so, I thought I’d watch a short video as I headed towards dreamland.

Best mistake I made this week.

Honest Liars Рthe psychology of self-deception a TEDxUNLV talk by Dr. Cortney S. Warren was 13 minutes well spent, that really got me thinking for the better part of an hour.

Dr. Warren flawlessly delivers content that is not so easy to hear.

And if we’re willing to engage with what she has to say, rather than assume she’s talking about people other than ourselves, there are some powerful messages to consider and grapple with.

I might go back to list all the great lines at some point down the road, but in the interim, here are two good ones:

“Not changing when confronted with the truth is a choice.”

“When we admit who we really are, we have the opportunity to change.”

Don’t wait another moment. Watch this yourself.

And then, if time allows, I’d take a spin through Dr. Warren’s website¬†choosehonesty.com.