The amazing interdependent 4 Ps

Albert Einstein called the feeling of separation from the whole, “a kind of optical delusion of consciousness.”

The commonly-used triune brain model (brain stem, limbic system, neocortex) is really a metaphor for a completely connected and intertwined system.

So it is with the 4 Ps.

Passion, play, purpose and persistence are interdependent, interlocked with each other. They need each other for you to be at your best. Imagine passion without purpose, persistence without passion, play without persistence. They kind of work, but this experience is a pale imitation of the vibrancy you experience when all combine.

It’s misleading to take each of the 4 Ps one at a time. It’s necessary for understanding, but to live from the center of your life all 4 Ps are in play.

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Failure gratitude

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We’ve spent so much of our lives going in the wrong direction. We’ve spent countless hours on things we once cared about but no longer do. We’ve made so many mistakes. We’ve failed to follow our passion again and again. “What was I thinking?” There’s so much to regret.

And every one of those failures helped guide us to right where we are now. There’s no better place to be than right here, right now. We get passionate about something and follow that thread, not knowing where it will lead. And that passion often ends. Everything in life does. This is how we learn. This is how we grow.

No regrets, only gratitude. Thank each mistake.

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Celtics coach Brad Stevens on the best version of ourselves

As the NBA prepares to begin training camps for the 2018-2019 season, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said, ““It’ll be a great opportunity to start afresh with a brand new team, though we do have a lot of guys back, and see if we can be the best version of ourselves.”

Teams often ask me after collaborative team building activities, “are we the best?” And I can also sense that they often wonder, “are we really bad?”

In other words, how do we rate? How do we compare? How do we stack up? This is one of the amygdala in the brain’s sorting techniques to try to keep us safe. It’s usually not helpful.

Better to be who we are. There’s no one like us. There’s no team like us, for better and for worse. Each individual on the team brings strengths and passions unique to that person. And each time is a unique combination of those strengths and passions, and weaknesses and blind spots, whether people on the team are brand new, or they’re veterans.

Three helpful steps for any team to be your best

  1. Stop comparing with other teams (including teams you used to be on or previous versions of this team)
  2. Ask, “who are we, really? What’s unique about our people and our team collectively?” Now we know our identity, what we have to work with.
  3. Lastly, let’s be the best version of ourselves. Now we have something real to aim for. Not the best overall, and not avoiding being the worst overall. Let’s see if we can be the best version of ourselves.

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Celtics coach Brad Stevens on what to do when things change in a heartbeat

“Your rotation can change in a heartbeat. You can work all summer on it and then you’ve got to adjust in one day. The bottom line is we have an idea of who we’ll play together and who best fits together and what lineups we think we’ll try to use, but we’ll see how it shakes itself out.”
– Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens

Most coaches know this truth. But Stevens knows this better than most. The first game of the 2017-2018 season he lost star Gordon Hayward in a season-ending injury. Then later in the season his other star Kyrie Irving went down for the season as well. The remaining squad still managed to push the Cavaliers to a Game Seven in the Eastern Conference Finals, making it one win away from the NBA finals.

So what do you do when change happens to your team? Do what Stevens did. Take the time now to see how the team best works together. See who best fits together. Start there. Get to know your people better than you ever could have imagined – their strengths and blind spots. That’s the groundwork. The MBTI and StrengthsFinder will help you do that.

Then know that it WILL all change. Plans don’t work out. Things change in a heartbeat – a client change, an industry change, a personnel change, a personal change for a team member, it can all change. You can, as Stevens said, “work all summer on it and then you’ve got to adjust in one day.”

Lastly, rely on the people on your team that have the MBTI Perceiving function, and the people on your team that have the Adaptability StrengthsFinder talent. These people are energized when unexpected change happens. They’ll bring positivity and energy to a stressful situation. Because unexpected change happens in a heartbeat. It may have even happened while you were reading these words.

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The skunk under the bridge

Another 90 degree summer day, another work day done, another evening summer swim in the books. I left the water at the base of the bridge of the Millers River and started up the bank when a movement behind me caught my eye. I turned and saw an adolescent skunk huddled on the concrete ledge about four feet off the ground. It peered at me for a moment then tucked its head back into its body, flattening itself against the wall and shaking lightly. A list of swear words had been spray painted sometime earlier in the summer above where it lay – a neat juxtaposition of the priorities of importance of animal and human realm.

I called Laura. Laura volunteers at a wildlife rehabilitation place locally and is studying to get her license – she’d know what to do, how to help. Then I sat on the bank looking at the skunk while waiting for Laura to arrive. It was beautiful. A white crown and broad white striping on its young back. It was quiet down there, just sitting and being near this scared, stressed, uncomplaining little animal. Something settled in me that moment.

Laura arrived with a pet carrier, a broom, a blanket and a can of cat food. It took a while, cat food in carrier, open door, blanket over the carrier to create a safe, dark cave, and Laura quietly, calmly, patiently sweeping near the skunk until it finally backed into the cage. Laura carried it upstream and found a quiet spot in the woods near the water’s edge. She opened the carrier door but the skunk didn’t want to leave. She had to tilt it until it finally came out. As soon as it realized where it was it shuffled into the underbrush, vanishing to the human eye back into nature.

Laura thought that it may have been stuck up there a while. Skunks can climb a little bit, and it probably scrambled up to escape something attacking it. But the smooth surface of the concrete, surrounded almost entirely by water, probably made it too difficult to climb down. It was probably hungry and dehydrated, and definitely very stressed. I was proud of Laura – her first successful rescue mission.

I had had a good day of work previously – lots got accomplished. But nothing felt like the skunk experience. The work had me at one level, then the skunk helped me sink way down. Its quiet vulnerability released an internal wall and I felt such a deep tenderness. And to help, to be of use, felt so powerful. I could see why Laura is attracted to this kind of work.

And I was reminded again of the deep power of purpose – of aligning our actions with helping something beyond ourselves. Seeing vulnerability makes it easier to do. It unlocks that tenderness we’re all capable of. How can we be of use? How can we notice vulnerability around us? How can we let down our guards to show our vulnerability? Vulnerability is the cornerstone of trust, of connection. There is some part of each person we meet today that is huddled into itself, scared and shaking. After all, we are all animals.

 

Click here to watch Laura’s video of young skunks at mealtime.

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Steph Curry tries something new for the offseason

“Basketball you are consumed by for nine full months every single day. In the playoffs, every game feels like two regular season games in one. You need to just be able to turn it off.” – Stephen Curry

Golden State Warrior point guard Stephen Curry’s workouts are legendary. No matter what city he’s playing in, the stands fill up well before the game to watching him go through his insane pre-game routine. He worked himself out of “pretty good” into “unanimous MVP.”

After winning his third championship in the past four years, he did something different the summer of 2018. He rested. He shut down his body to give it a break. No basketball, no lifting weights, nothing. Three weeks, nothing. Then he slowly returned to physical exertion with biking and yoga.

The other side of the persistence coin is to persist with rest and recharging. You have no idea how stressed you are right now, how tired and worn down you are right now, how badly you could use some rest. And you won’t until you stop.

If you’re playing the long game, recovery times are the shortest path to maximum passion, engagement, productivity

These ‘persistence recharger’ rests ideally happen daily (breaks during the day), weekly (some time devoted to shutting down), quarterly (workday days off), AND annually (at least a week solid away from all of it).

If Stephen Curry can pause for three weeks, so can you.

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Four quick steps to being at your best

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  1. Only pick what you love
  2. Try it out
  3. Keep trying it out
  4. Do what helps

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Discernment and the gift of decreasing energy

As we age, research shows that we get happier. And despite bodies wearing out, seniors are the happiest of all of us. One reason is that as we age, we don’t have as much energy as we used to.

We can’t do everything. But we can do some things. We have to discern where to put our finite, decreasing energy. This gift of limited energy doesn’t allow us to run around willy nilly doing everything anymore, only what matters, only what we were born to love.

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What happens when monarch caterpillars stop eating?

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As soon as a monarch caterpillar is born its primary job is to eat. It eats and sleeps, eats and sleeps. Along the way it molts (sheds its skin) five times. It eats so much it even eats its shed skin. It gains 2700 times its original weight.

We’re a consumer society. It was the solution that businesses came up with after World War II to keep themselves in business, and the government did its best to help out, hoping to avoid another Great Depression.

It worked. Today, we consume more than we ever have: obesity, consumer goods purchases, energy consumption, waste generation, entertainment consumption are all at the highest levels they’ve ever been since we first showed up on the planet.

When we consume we feed a hunger – literal or metaphorical. Now that we have enough food to eat (if you’re reading this, that is), this hunger is usually emotional.

Back to the butterfly – once it has eaten enough, it forms a chrysalis. 9-14 days later it turns into a butterfly and takes to the air. It no longer needs to eat enough to gain 2700 times its weight. In fact that it would be a pretty bad idea. They need to travel light to make it to Mexico. They start leaving in September.

That’s what monarchs do. What do we do when we stop eating?

When we’re done consuming and trying to fill a hole there’s a period of waiting and unknown that can be quite unsettling. It’s the visit to the underworld in the Hero’s Journey. We can refuse the call and go back to eating, consuming, preparing. Or we can enter our personal chrysalises and “wait without hope” as T.S. Eliot wrote. If we’re brave enough, we’ll find that, “the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.”

Because after we’ve stopped blindly eating like the caterpillar, and we’ve waited in the darkness like the chrysalis, guess what comes next?

 

“I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope

For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,

For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith

But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.

Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

-T.S. Eliot

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Do what helps

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We love to do lots of things. We’re full of passion. When discerning which type of passion to follow, look at what will help the most beings. Do you care about your family, your friends, poor people, nature, animals, autistic kids, seniors, the environment, your community? Whatever you care about outside of ‘singular you’, pick your passion that will most help that group. Don’t just pick what you love. Do what helps.

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