It always comes down to turnout

As the US goes to the polls today, it really doesn’t matter whether one identifies as a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or whatever. Whether we prefer Beto or Ted, Andrew or Rod, Stacey or Brian means precisely nothing if we don’t go vote.

It turns out that our strongly held beliefs and eloquently worded arguments on social media are just so much you-know-what if we never get out of the stands and into the arena.

It turns out that even with something as mundane as our shopping intentions, if we don’t traffic the retailer’s store or website the retailer has no chance of selling us anything. No traffic, no sale.

It turns out that in the face of devastating tragedy all of our expressions of “thoughts and prayers” do rather little to change the underlying factors that led to the event in the first place.

It turns out that when someone is suffering, sending a card or flowers is nice, but it’s our showing up for them–in compassion, vulnerability and authenticity–that truly matters.

I’m not at all sure that, as the saying goes, 80% of life is showing up. But I am rather certain that it’s impossible to make a real difference if our thoughts and beliefs never turn into action.

As it turns out, it’s always been about turnout. And those that care show up.

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Out of ignorance or fear?

There are all sorts of reasons we stay stuck, fail to take action on the things we tell ourselves really matter, spin on items big and small.

Whether it’s deepening (or ending) a personal relationship, finishing our book, quitting a soul-crushing job or starting that new business we keep talking about, there is an aspect of our evolutionary biology that holds us back.

Vulnerability is scary.

Bringing our ideas, wishes and dreams into the light risks criticism–or even ridicule.

All too often, The Resistance is real.

Half the battle in overcoming our fears is to accept the reality that we crave both growth and safety at the same time. Yet there is simply no talking ourselves out of the fact of our hard-wiring. Our job, then, is to learn how to quiet the lizard brain and press on.

Ignorance is a different matter entirely.

Ignorance is often a major contributor to stoking our fear and anxiety. One needs neither an advanced degree–or any degree at all–nor dedication of substantial time and effort to see how much our society is burdened by irrational fears borne largely out of misinformation, misunderstanding and verifiable mistruths.

The fact is, in the developed world at least, most people have plenty of access to all the information they need to be reasonably well informed. Most folks have the tools to apply a decent level of discernment.

If it matters to you and you don’t know, your ignorance is a willful act.

In fighting our stuckness, in being willing to put our art out into the ether, in exposing who we are to another person, in contributing to a better world, it’s important to understand what holds us back.

Fear is a dragon to slay. Ignorance is a choice.

 

This post was simultaneously published on my more spiritually driven blog I Got Here As Fast As I Could.

That which we worship

“What people revere, they resemble, either for ruin or for restoration.”

– Greg Beale

The word “worship” most often has a religious connotation. But we can revere, adore, exalt, venerate and glorify many things beyond whatever concept of a Higher Power we have (or don’t).

We can worship money.

We can worship being right.

We can worship a bigger house filled with more and ever cooler stuff.

We can worship the demonization of people different from us.

We can worship busyness.

We can worship propping up or protecting our ego.

We can even worship feeling like a victim.

And on and on.

Then again…

We can worship compassion.

Or generosity.

Or acceptance.

Or courage.

Or forgiveness.

Or love.

The thing to remember is that which we worship is a choice, made each and every day, in the present moment.

The other thing to remember is that, ultimately, what we worship defines us and our impact on the world.

As we embark on a New Year maybe it’s time to make some different choices?

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A version of this post originally was posted on my “other” blog: I Got Here As Fast As I Could.

Misteaks were made

Our culture tends to reward perfectionism. Never say die, never fail, never let them see you sweat, be all you can be. And so on.

I’ve worked with–and for–a lot of perfectionists. Some of my best friends are perfectionists. I might have even fallen in love with a perfectionist or two. And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve had my own bouts with setting impossibly high standards for myself and then falling short time and time again. Let the self flagellation begin!

It’s a trap.

In fact, more and more research suggests that perfectionism actually hampers success, while being a major contributor to depression, anxiety and even suicide.

Unfortunately, the growth of social media only exacerbates the situation and sets us up for a ridiculous game of comparison as our “friends” share all the fabulous things they are doing, all the great relationships they are in (“best boyfriend ever!”) and all the wonderful food they are enjoying (“nom”).

All these crazy comparisons only make us crazy. When we stop worrying about what others will think we are truly free to embrace being ourselves, warts and all.

Our fear of looking stupid or vulnerable hinders the possibility for intimacy. Letting go of our desire for control and certainty paves the way for real connection.

And it’s precisely our unwillingness to fail that is the biggest barrier to innovation (of all kinds) and personal growth. As Seth reminds us, “if failure is not option, neither is success.”

Fear of failure, of making a mistake, keeps us stuck in so many ways.

Perfectionism is a curse. Imperfection yields many gifts.

What do you say? Let’s go make some mistakes.

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A version of this post originally appeared on my purpose-driven blog I Got Here As Fast As I Could.

Predictable crises

When someone we care about fails to admit they have a serious problem and fails to do the work to remedy it, are we shocked when they eventually experience the consequences of their addictive or dysfunctional behavior?

Are we surprised one little bit when a brand facing stiff competition and highly disruptive forces finds itself struggling to stay in business because it never bothered to get serious about innovation?

Is it at all astonishing that deficits mount or poverty persists or bridges collapse when politicians lack the courage to address the root causes and constantly kick the can down the road?

In The Sun Also Rises one of Hemingway’s characters famously answered the question of how he went bankrupt by saying: “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

If we are honest, many of us see the wall we’re going to crash into long before we feel the impact. But fear keeps us stuck in inaction and false hope.

Liars lie. Gravity always wins. And few problems unaddressed magically fix themselves.

The best time to start was likely years ago. The second best time is now.

yves klein