Category Archives: Purpose

Safe or happy?

The amygdala part of the brain wants to keep us safe. It’s its primary function. The frontal cortex part of the brain developed after the amygdala. It is more interested in whether you’re happy, fulfilled, have good connections with the people you care about or not. In any given moment one or the other is in charge. Not both. So that means in any given moment – like this one – you’re either focused on feeling safe or being happy. What we say we want and what we act like in daily life are often two different things. Lastly, safe and happy are in two different categories. They don’t happen at the same time. When I say ‘happy’ here I’m not talking ‘yay!’ Happiness in this case is a sense of fulfillment of flourishing of being at your best. You won’t find safety there. This is the Hero’s Journey – the trip into the scary unknown. You leave safety in search of happiness.

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Da Vinci on building a team with strengths and weaknesses

“An arch consists of two weaknesses which, leaning one against the other, make a strength.” — Leonardo da Vinci The ideal team recognizes that each person has peaks and valleys, highs and lows, strengths and weaknesses.  Taken individually, a person might try to fix those weaknesses, obsess over them, or hide them. Our brains are wired to look for flaws. It’s old survival behavior. The new way individually is to stop obsessing over weaknesses and focus on strengths more.  And the best way to build a team is to look at that team as three-dimensional. There are peaks and valleys based on individual strengths. And interestingly, those peaks and valleys overlap and cancel each other out. One person might be horrible at follow-up, another one is brilliant at it. One person might excel at winning suspicious people over, another person might consider that a worst nightmare scenario.  The ideal team forms a series of Da Vinci’s arches. People with a weakness in an area lean on other people on the team that have that strength – whether to shift work responsibility, energy support or tactical suggestions. These pairings take away the weakness from the team. The vulnerability shown and interdependence explored with those mini-collaborations is what the team trust is built on – arches.

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Viktor Frankl on why you can’t be replaced

“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.” –       Viktor Frankl Automation is coming! The robots are taking over! The Brookings Institute estimates that 25% of US jobs are at high risk of being automated. Hint: if you’re in production, food service or transportation you’re particularly in danger. Emotional intelligence is one of the things that so far is least likely to be automated. If you want job security invest in your emotional intelligence. But Frankl isn’t really worried about automation. He knows you can’t be replaced if… If you Quest to find out what your mission is in lifeLook for your specific opportunity to implement your mission. If your life can’t actually be repeated by anyone, or by a computer, make it obvious. 

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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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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’.  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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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 Species, it 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 Change Quest is now available virtually for web-based team development. Click here to start transforming your team.

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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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