Category Archives: Put It Together

Hermann Hesse on what he needs to be happy (Hint: twenty books may be needed)

“I would give my left hand if I could again be a poor, happy bachelor and own nothing but twenty books, a second pair of boots, and a box full of secretly composed poems.” – Hermann Hesse In 1919 at age 42 Hesse made that move. He went to Montagnola, a small village in the foothills of the southern Swiss Alps. He stayed there the rest of his life. It was here that he wrote all of his major works (in order of publication): Siddhartha, Steppenwolf, Narcissus and Goldmund, Journey to the Eastand The Glass Bead Game. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature for these works. When we are young, simplicity can happen without us even choosing it. When we are adults, it has to be chosen. It isn’t just given. The complexifier part of the brain (not yet scientifically proven, but I’d bet money we have one) keeps adding layers of interest and desires for accumulation and gathering. When were you happiest in your life? I’ll make another bet – it was when you were following a passion and had relatively little – little money, little possessions, little number of entanglements. It might have been when you were a kid, it might have been when you were a young adult. It might be right now.  For example, I was happiest as a kid out in nature, with a few books. Or listening to music on the radio. I was happiest as a young adult living out of a backpack, and then again studying music in college, so poor that I remember my friend Emily giving me a chocolate bar one afternoon. It was the first food I had eaten that day because I didn’t have money for food. Poor, but happy. I’m happiest as an adult once again out in nature, or with music in me. I don’t need much. The spirit of play needs the immediacy and focus of simplicity to thrive. And purpose needs the space that simplicity provides to slowly grow. And the internal force that quietly, relentlessly drives you to being at your best doesn’t love money, or stuff. It wants more from you – it wants you too to be happy.

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40 days of coming home

“So, what have you gotten so far?” Mike asked me halfway into this year’s 40 Days to Change For Good. (How’s yours going? Tell me about it.) I’ve been reviewing my first fifty years alive and pondering what is most important for me to aim myself for my (hopeful) last fifty. The first intuitive words that came to me are “coming home.” I’ve notice core threads of what I love running through my childhood into this moment. And I’ve noticed how I’ve strayed from those ‘golden threads’, how I’ve put away parts of me, covered them up with the dust of everyday life. And how I’ve been pulled from my passion core by cul-de-sacs that seemed like highways at the time or listened to fear’s bad advice. This noticing is helping me make bolder, wiser choices for the second half, helping me to ‘come home’ to who I am meant to be. What is there to lose? It’s these pauses that make us smarter and wiser. This is what happens for teams in the locker room at halftime. It’s a chance to see a bigger picture, notice what is true to our identity – ‘who we are’, and reorient back to that. In short, the locker room pause is the best chance for us to come home. Let’s be honest about Decembers. No work is really expected of anyone the last two weeks. There’s a two-week last push and then the foot comes off the gas pedal until after New Years. You have a two-week window to get the locker room wisdom of the pause. Review this year. What choices made are aligned with your core passion? And what pulled you away from home? What reorienting is needed to follow William Blake’s ‘golden thread’ to who you are meant to be, for you to come home for the holidays, and come home for 2019? I give you the end of a golden string; Only wind it into a ball, It will lead you in at Heaven’s gate, Built in Jerusalem’s wall -William Blake PS: the photos are my wood shed – this year’s and last – one way I come home…and keep that home warm.

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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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Four quick steps to being at your best

Only pick what you love Try it out Keep trying it out Do what helps

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Shake It Up

You need to establish routines to persist, to make something you desire unconscious. But what about when the things you do are unconsciously bad? You do things automatically but they don’t work. They don’t help. They may even make things worse. Then you shake it up. You change it up. You break the routine. For example, if sitting at your computer is not working for you, stand up. Go outside. Try doing what you do in the morning in the afternoon, and vice versa. Rip up your To Do list. Try walking sideways to get the coffee. Try anything, anything that will shake it up. Any kind of change. What happens when you change something? You come at it with a fresh perspective. Everything is new again in that moment. You are innocent again. And you are more able to play your way into doing what you are passionate about. Learn more:  Change Up! – Teams master change with a mix of team building and training.

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Persist Like a Phoebe In Her Nest

Every year a phoebe builds a nest somewhere on our house. This year she built it on the crook of a gutter drainpipe above the walkway to the house, a highly trafficked area. If I’m out on the patio or on the back deck, I can look over and see her sitting on the eggs in her nest. She built it herself – that’s what phoebes do. The male accompanied her, but it took her close to two weeks to build it out of mud, leaves, moss and hair. Now she’s sitting on the eggs. They incubate for about two weeks. Then the hatchlings will be born – helpless and eyes closed – and she’ll care for them for another 2-3 weeks. I’ve been appreciating her consistency of commitment. There have been some severe temperature fluctuations the last few weeks. And some intense weather – driving rain, high winds, abnormally hot days, followed by 40-degree nights. Through all of it she continues her commitment to her eggs, never acting upset or concerned. If I can’t sleep at night, it helps knowing that she is out there, continuing her faithfulness. As I type these words, I can see her. We all have passions we commit ourselves to. It could be work related, or it might be your family, or gardening, or writing, or playing music, or being in nature. And we all can use inspiration to continue that commitment. If this phoebe is helpful, use it. Or look for another inspiration – a reason why you’re committing again and again to something that you care about where the outcome is unknown. Inspiration helps. And so does appreciation. Appreciation is the antidote to worry. Perhaps you can pause right now and appreciate yourself for continuing to persist, to do the difficult work of being alive and awake on the earth. Here’s to your commitment to your passion you’re incubating this lovely month!

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You’ll Never Get to the End of Mastery

I’ve been starting my musical practice with these cheery words. I’ll never get to the end of technical mastery. There’s always something else to learn, to get better at, to explore. So, there’s now no rush. And there’s nowhere to get to. Now is all I have, now is all you have, finding the spirit of passion and play as you persist along your path that leads nowhere…and everywhere.

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What Do You Focus On if You’re Lydia Ko, you’re 18 and the #1 Female Golfer In the World?

Q: “How do you handle the pressure of competing at that level consistently?” Lydia Ko: “I’m just trying to enjoy it. And having fun for me is the most important thing. And golf is a sport where you’re playing for a long time so having fun keeps the pressure go away.  I have a really solid team around me, which has helped me be grounded and help me all the way.” That interview was at a Golden State Warriors basketball game. She had just spent the morning hanging out with Stephen Curry and the rest of the team, having fun putting in the basketball gym. So, Lydia Ko is true to her word. I like the idea that if you want to do something a long time – and professional golfers can be professional golfers for a very long time – then having fun is the most important thing. It’s a message I’ve said many times here – have fun. And a message I spread during team building activities. But it’s a message we all could probably stand to hear at least once a day. So many other messages in the world are aimed at making us more serious, grim or worried. Or advertising desperately tries to link having fun with spending money on something. That’s truly…false advertising. Play can be had anywhere, any day, any time. And play allows us to persist. Having fun allows us to persist, to play the long game. Where could all that energy come, if not from joy? It helps of course to also have a solid team, as Ko mentioned. Here’s to both of us focusing on having fun today, playing what we’re persisting at – work, family relationships, our passion, whatever. And hats off to everyone on your team as well. Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: Secret Agent Team – ‘There’s a team who leads the life of danger…’ Test your spy skills in a series of interactive challenges. The Ultimate Game – Travel around the giant game board, furiously completing wild and wacky trivia and team challenges in the craziest team building program ever. World Record Breakers – Ignite Olympic energy, passion and fervor with a dozen hilarious competitive events! Everyone can play regardless of physical ability. Catapult – Design and build fully functional catapults and compete in distance and accuracy. Team Sand Castle Build – Create innovative, beautiful sand sculptures with a wild assortment of materials for sunny team fun Cerebral Knievel – Let your team’s “whole brain” play and develop team skills at the same time in this giant Cranium-style game. Show Me the Money – Teams form ‘companies’ and race across a giant game board for market share in a game of corporate mayhem. Quixote Hunt – Saddle up your mare Rocinante (i.e., your feet or a limo) and venture out on your very own customized scavenger or photo quest! Return of the Titanic Boat Building – It’s sink or swim time – will your team come out high and dry, or end up all wet? Quixote Olympics – Compete in either our Summer or Winter Olympics, indoors or outdoors. Try ‘Tilting at Windmills’ and a host of other fun events.

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What’s in a Number? (Power of Persistence)

Here are some Mad Max: Fury Road numbers: 30 years to get filmed 400 hours of footage 2,700 cuts (done amazingly by Miller’s wife and editing partner Margaret Sixel) 1,700 crewmembers 15,000 stunt crew-days 150 hand-built vehicles 120 days of filming in the Namibian desert a two-hour film 1 chase scene $347 million and counting at the box office We’ve heard the 10,000 hours rule to mastery. Whatever the actual number it takes to hit mastery, one thing is clear. The numbers count. The amount of time you devote to something adds up. You get what you invest. Not always externally – not every movie is a success, not every song is heard, not every word gets read. But you don’t get anything more out of something than what you put in. You’re passionate about something. What is it? How can you help it with the power of numbers? Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: 40 Days to Change For Good – Don’t just manage change, lead it. Create a successful forty-day blueprint to lead a change that lasts.

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“We go out daily and nightly to feed the eyes on the horizon…” (Emerson)

“We go out daily and nightly to feed the eyes on the horizon, and require so much scope, just as we need water for our bath… The blue zenith is the point in which romance and reality meet.” – Emerson Any break we take from the daily minute smallness that can constrict so tightly gives us a chance to reconnect with something larger – that’s the power of purpose. I love mountains, and I love water – many of us do. There’s a sense of space in both of these things that I find liberating. The ocean combines both the open space of water and the horizon line that a mountain’s perspective gifts us with. Winter also has a wonderful way of opening up horizon lines that leaves obscure. But the horizon line is always with us, no matter where we are. It may be broken up by buildings or trees, but it’s always there – on the same level, the same height as you and I.

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