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Thoughts about things that matter

The hype

You've probably heard there are lots of concerning recession signs for global economies. Yet this is the chart for how the Dow Jones Industrial Average has performed over the last 100+ years. Not too bad.

It's tempting to buy into the hype of today's headlines. The thinking goes that hype awareness is how we get ahead. And if you pick the perfect thing, at the perfect time, in the perfect place, well, then sure, you'll end up ahead. 

That's also a whole lot of 'perfects' to nail perfectly.

More often, tuning into the hype is a trap. It's a daily rat race with only a few winners (likely not you), and where everyone else has to start over at zero the next day. 

The chart above highlights an alternative: skip the hype. Acknowledge the reality that every day won't be a win and choose to invest our time, effort, and energy with a focus beyond the frantic urgency of today. 

It's still a daily practice, and one where you don't have to start at zero tomorrow.  

Plausible deniability

If we're honest, we've all sought it out. It's a tantalizing proposition. The offer of plausible deniability is direct access to feelings of safety, preserving the status quo, and self-promotion.

Those are desirable feelings. They're also far from free because the exchange of plausible deniability is less and less ownership.

That's a tough pill to swallow for those of us interested in doing remarkable work. The work of a linchpin professional is continuously moving in the direction of more and more ownership of the work. Not less.

With ownership comes opportunities for generosity, possibility, self-discovery, and yes, remarkability. To access these though we must be willing to set aside the allure of plausible deniability.

If it's remarkable work, remarkable relationships, remarkable lives that we're after then the decision awaiting us is this:

Bravely choose responsibility over deniability.

Ideally

Ideally, we'd agree.

Ideally, everything would go the way we planned it.

Ideally, everyone would want the same things we want.

Ideally, we’d have all the info.

Ideally, nothing would go wrong.

Ideally, everyone would always act rationally. 

But then, of course, we'd all be the same, and I think the world would be a much more drab and colorless place. 

The world doesn't work this way. We don't always agree. Surprises happen. Things do go wrong. What an opportunity we have, on each occasion, to decide for ourselves how we want to show up in the world. 

It's tempting for us to give our power here over to the circumstances, or others who acted wrongly, or our fear. The truth is - our decisions are ours to own; what a gift.

So, yes, things are hardly ideal. Now, how do we choose to show up?

Going first

If the choice is clear, if the best is obvious, if the food is hot then, certainly, allowing others to go first is a generous decision.

If it's scary,
If it's unproven,
If it asks for vulnerability,
If it takes humility,
If it requires integrity,
If the outcome isn't certain,
If the way forward is unclear,

What a generous time to go first.

Leadership is about seeking out the opportunities to go first generously.

"I'll have time later"

Is this really a relevant reason to delay something that’s important enough to do today?

And — is it really a relevant reason to keep something around that’s not important enough to do today?

What using time in the future enables us to do is alleviate the tension of deciding today. We’re hiding.

What’s more, that time that feels so free in the future isn’t actually any more cheap than our time today; it simply feels that way. It’s a mirage.

This is a downward spiral of pressure, firefighting, and unmade decisions. Or we can make the choice of the professional — she decides, today.

Are we the same?

Well, no, actually we aren’t.

One of the captivating characteristics of the human experience is that we are all unique, each and every one of us. And as we look to find common ground with those around us, keeping this in mind can really take the pressure off.

No longer do we have to keep hunting for our perfect match — relationally, politically, professionally, etc. — because there’s a better, more productive pursuit.

How about — How are we the same?

We’re better off letting go of the illusive mirage that someone, anyone is always going to agree with us. If it’s truly progress we’re after, finding a place to stand together — regardless of how much separates us — is an awfully good place to start.

Intentional gathering

How we show up to a courthouse is different than how we’d show up to a barbecue with good friends.

This is normal. Environment matters, and each of us are multi-faceted human beings with a wide-range of qualities and attributes. Part of the joy of life is being able to experience environments that pull these unique aspects out of us.

Here’s the relevant question — as you think about the next appointment on your schedule, what kind of environment are you creating for those who attend?

It’s very simple to do what we’ve always done when it comes to the meetings in our calendar. It might be worth pausing to consider what the gathering is actually for, how you want everyone to feel when they come, and how you could create an environment that matches your purpose for your guests.

Drip by drip

A garden doesn’t flourish from a flood of water.

Writing for an entire day doesn’t build a habit.

Going a day without meat doesn’t make you a vegetarian.

And signing up for a gym membership doesn’t make you fit.

Lasting change hardly ever happens through intense, sporadic, passionate bursts of action.

Change happens through the consistent, generous practice of showing up — day after day — and falling in love with a different way to see the world.

Some things about remarkable work

Remarkable is fluid.

Remarkable to one person, might be entirely ordinary — or even less — to someone else.

That’s because remarkable work doesn’t begin until what was expected is delivered.

The catch (and the variance) is that it isn’t what you expected to deliver that matters. The recipient defines remarkable.

Once you’ve delivered remarkable enough that it’s anticipated, it isn’t remarkable anymore. It’s expected.

Delivering what we’ve always done is a ratchet — a downward one — where the more we decide to deliver on the status quo, the easier it becomes for us to settle for average. Everywhere.

Remarkable work as a practice also ratchets. Each time we commit to delivering remarkable work as a rule, the easier it becomes to see the opportunities for more of remarkable.

And so we see — remarkable is always moving, this way or that. It’s a decision each time. And what we decide today matters for tomorrow.