Forky from Toy Story 4 and Albert Camus on your life’s purpose

“A person’s life purpose is nothing more than to rediscover, through the detours of art, or love, or passionate work, those one or two images in the presence of which his heart first opened.”
–       Albert Camus

  1. Art
  2. Love
  3. Passionate work

These are Camus’ three – the ways to rediscover those precious things that you saw and felt when your heart first opened. Of the three, I’m guessing that love is what first opened your young heart. It could have been love for another person, love for the natural world, anything. 

A child often doesn’t discriminate what it first loves – witness Bonnie’s love for Forky in Toy Story 4. Her art also became her love – a plastic spork.

What matters to us? How to thread that narrow path once again and taste what we first glimpsed?

Camus offers solid advice here. The three ‘detours’ lead to what can’t be found on any map. Today and all life long, the three detours are ready to lead us back home.

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Ursula K. Le Guin on power, knowledge and choice

“As a man’s real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do.”

–   Ursula Le Guin

When we’re young, the way is wide open. We don’t have power or knowledge. By the time we hit middle age, many doors previously open are now closed.

We can mourn that loss. It’s human to do so and need to.

Also true, but not noticed as much is the power and knowledge we’ve gathered by being alive and awake closed many of those doors. Cul-de-sacs and dead ends drop away as we get wiser. Eventually? There’s no choice at all. We just do what we must – the narrow path of our passion.

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Thomas Berry says “Nothing is itself without everything else”

Every living creature, every particle all tied up with every other living creature. Everyone and every thing you and I come into contact, we are part of each other. What I do to you, I do to myself. 

The daily ‘awareness eraser’ called modern life does its best for us all to forget that.

Yet we’re at our best when we remember what Mary Oliver wrote, “our place in the family of things.”

“Everything is integral and interacts with everything else. This means that nothing is itself without everything else. There is a commonality, an integrity, an intimacy of the universe with itself.”

— Thomas Berry

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To ask well is to answer

The Jungian analyst Robert Johnson writes, “To ask well is virtually to answer.”

He’s writing about our internal process of individuation, navigating our internal landscape in search of wholeness. 

Also true? It’s how we best connect with others, how we can calm someone down who is emotionally triggered. A true question – one ‘asked well’ – engages the frontal cortex, the connector part of the brain. 

If you want to influence and make a change, ask well. It’s like answering, but better.

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How many bottles are produced every year for US consumption?

Q: How many bottles are produced every year for US consumption?

A: 140 billion

There are 327 million people in the US. That’s over forty bottles per person, every year. When you start adding up our collective impact, it’s astounding – for better or for worse. 

Your impact, your influence in the world is hard enough to think about. We don’t do it well – our brains aren’t wired that way. 

Even harder is to think systemically. For example, what 327 million people might use in a year. Or how connected we all are. And how what one does, many do.

It’s hard – and worth it. 

It’s hard – and you just did it.

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How many paper cups are thrown away every year in the U.S.?

Q: How many paper cups are thrown away every year in the U.S.?

A: 60 billion

That’s enough to pave a coffee cup highway to the moon and back seven times over.

Next…

Q: Are they really paper cups?

A: Nope. Most ‘paper’ coffee cups are coated with polyethylene, a plastic. 

Which means they don’t get recycled and they don’t degrade in a compost bin, on the side of a highway or floating downstream.

We are powerful beyond our imagining. Especially when what we do is combined with others. And combined with a daily ritual – like buying coffee. 

Our actions often reflect a mindless non-choice and reinforces behavior we wish we could change or that the world would change. But we don’t. And the world doesn’t.

We change some repetitive action, someone else changes their action because we’ve normalized something that used to be strange, like using our own fancy ceramic cup or travel mug. And it spreads, like Rilke said ‘in growing orbits’. 

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What percent of new car sales is electric?

More than one million Americans have bought or leased an electric vehicle (EV). What percent of new car sales is that?

2%

You’d think it was more than that right?

We may notice:

Charging stations in plumb spots in the shopping center parking lot

Charging stations in rest areas on the highway

That interesting looking Tesla

That new article – for better or worse – about Tesla

When we think about cars – whether often or rarely – Evs occupy much more than 2% of our ‘car thoughts’. Or at least they do mine. I notice them. I don’t notice most cars.

This ‘thinking about’ process is well into the long, slow process of changing minds and changing habits. Thinking about electric vehicles and seeing them used is priming us to also buy an EV instead of a gas-guzzler. It normalizes the leap.

If you want to change a habit or influence someone else to change their mind, get those brains thinking about the change. Action won’t be taken, not for a while. The mind isn’t ready for action yet. But the process is now underway. 

Someday gas-powered vehicles will be 2% of vehicle sales. 

And then 0%. 

And it all started today, with us just thinking about something a little more. 

PS – Influence Without Authority is now completely revamped and updated with the latest research. Click here to start transforming your team.

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“We meet life on life’s terms” David Milch on Alzheimers and the return of Deadwood

Peak TV fans know Deadwood as one of the greatest shows of the beginning of the current golden era. For three seasons writer and show-runner David Milch wrote ornately intricate beautiful dialogue and emotionally resonant stories. Then HBO canceled it. 

Improbably, thirteen years later, HBO decided to bring everyone back for a Deadwood movie. And poignantly, at age 71 Milch now has Alzheimers. “As best I understand it, which is minimally, I have a deterioration in the organization of my brain,” he says. “And it’s progressive. And in some ways discouraging. In more than some ways — in every way I can think of.”

He’s less of a fire-brand presence on set now, and does his writing in spurts when he’s at his best. For someone with such an incredibly brilliant mind, I would imagine this worsening condition is particularly cruelly devastating for him. How does David Milch look at his Alzheimers?

“Certain complications were present throughout, and compounded as time progressed. I’m thankful to report my writing process has remained largely as it was. Each day is as it comes. We endeavor to meet life on life’s terms — not impose our ambitions on it, to be useful within the present moment.” 

Wherever we are on our life’s journey a pause for each one of those last statements may help calm and re-orient us to what is most important, not just today’s demands.

“Each day is as it comes.”

“We endeavor to meet life on life’s terms — not impose our ambitions on it.”

“To be useful within the present moment.”

PS Emotional Intelligence Works is now completely revamped and updated with the latest research. Click here to start transforming your team.

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Darwin on change and Miami Beach (hint: it’s not survival of the fittest)

“According to Darwin’s Origin of Speciesit is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.” – Leon C. Megginson

The world keeps changing around us. It’s changing faster. And climate change also keeps changing faster. Darwin’s thesis can apply to us and how we live in the modern world. But it’ll also be part of a planet-wide experiment in sea-level change, temperature change, massive change none of us have big enough brains to let in. And as I’ve written recently our brains are not equipped with seeing ourselves in the future. 

I’ve been doing a lot of work in Miami this year. Seeing how small the spit of sand known as Miami Beach is from the air makes it pretty clear it won’t be there fifty years from now. And the buying frenzy right at sea level is tremendous. And I’m betting it’s pretty hard to get a 30-year mortgage there right now as well. 

The smartest people and the smartest animals aren’t the ones that are most likely to survive. And the strongest people and the strongest animals also aren’t. It’s the ones that will be best able to adapt and adjust to change. 

“Nature does not make mistakes. Right and wrong are human categories.” – Frank Herbert

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“Like archers aiming” – tweaking Aristotle on Purpose

“It concerns us to know the purposes we seek in life, for then, like archers aiming at a definite mark, we shall be more likely to attain what we want.” – Aristotle

Stephen Covey calls this concept “beginning with the end in mind.”

It’s a great concept but we rarely use it. We humans are notoriously bad at looking ahead. We’re terrible at saving for retirement, eating healthy food, exercising regularly, imagining what it will be like to be old, even sleeping enough. Jerry Seinfeld calls this phenomenon ‘night guy vs morning guy’. 

And yet we want so many things for us and the beings we care about. 

It may help to start smaller – little purpose pauses in the day. Little moments – imagine on your commute how you want to arrive, not just that you want to arrive. How do you want to feel after lunch, after your morning snack? After dinner? It may be too much to think about the next morning, but you can build up to it. 

Imagine you’re an archer trying to hit that ‘definite mark’. The closer the target, the easier it’ll be to hit.

PS Influencing Without Authority training is now completely revamped and updated with the latest research. Click here to start transforming your team.

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