Friday, December 30, 2011

Wisdom from the Great Masters (cont.)

One of my all time favorite thinkers is Joseph Campbell who said “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.” One of the bravest things you can do is let go of something you thought was important to create room for something better. This is hard because at first you can’t clearly see the trade-off. You might have to give up the security of a job for the chance to start your own business. “You can’t steal second if you won’t take your foot off first” - attributed to so many people I don’t know who originally said it. You can’t know for certain what the outcome will be, but if you don’t take the chance, you may “lead a life of quiet desperation.” (Thank you for your eloquence, Thoreau.)

It may not just be job related, but relationship related. You may hang on to certain people (family, friends, customers, etc.) because they are there, not because they bring you anything of value. Letting go of the mediocre (or even the bad!) creates room for the extraordinary. Are you thinking, “Better the Devil you know, than the Devil you don’t know?” I say, “Quit hanging out with Devils, you blockhead!” I bet you already know what or who to let go of, you’re just afraid to do it. Joseph Campbell also said, “Follow your bliss.” Not your guilt. You have a year, you gonna spent it on first base with a bunch of Devils?

The most commonly made New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. If this was your last year, would you spend it worrying about your weight? Or would you get so absorbed in living that your weight didn’t matter? Many of the reasons for overeating - boredom, loneliness, stress - wouldn’t be problems if you were living an exciting, engaging, Devil-free life. The best way to lose weight is to get a life that’s more exciting than food. (Yeah, you can attribute that one to me too.) So instead of trying to find that new diet plan or that amazing new workout routine, know thyself and turn your attention to something that might actually work - alleviate your boredom, loneliness, and/or stress.

Ah - here’s a great one: “Success is more a function of consistent common sense than it is of genius.” - An Wang. Think how successful we’d all be if we just used our common sense. Don’t spend money you don’t have. Treat other people the way you would like to be treated. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t text, drink, or go seatbeltless when you drive. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Someone who lied to you yesterday will probably lie to you today. But no, we cast common sense to the wind - spending money we don’t have, texting while we drive, and believing those who have repeatedly lied to us. Fire up your good old common sense - you might be amazed where it will take you.

All the years that have come before are over. There is a bright new year awaiting you. Are you going to live it or just get through it? Your year will be as exciting, as successful and as fun as you choose to make it. And if it’s the last one, let’s go out in a blaze of glory - running to second for all we’re worth, leaving the Devils behind!

Have a happy, happy 2012 everyone!!!! And thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wisdom from the Great Masters for 2012

Another year ending - the older I get, I swear the faster they go by. According to interpretations of the Mayan calendar, 2012 could be it. We have until December 21st, but that might be the end. Let’s go for it and pretend this is our last year. I’ve brought in some of the best and brightest to advise you and have created a worksheet for you to put their advice into practice.

“We are always getting ready to live and never living.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson is a God in my country and he’s spot on with this one. We all say things like, “We’ll do it when the kids are older; when we lose 10 lbs.; after the Recession”… we’ll do it someday. Do it now. There will never be a perfect time. Decide now what you really want to do in 2012- assume it’s now or never. (You good with never?)

“Know thyself” - said by Socrates, Plato, or some other wise Greek guy. If you are waiting for someone else to bring your life to you, you are in for a long wait. You have to get out there and live and figure out what works best for you. How can you know you love the mountains without having seen the vastness of the sea? How can you make the most of your talents if you don’t know what they are? Try one new thing a month for the next 12. I promise you will learn many things about yourself. Just because you’ve always done (or not done) something doesn’t mean that’s right for you. As another master, George Eliot, said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” 2013 might be too late - bring it now!

While I’m a little wary of calling William S. Burroughs a great master, I do like his advice, “When you stop growing you start dying.” It’s easy to get so consumed by routine and our busy lives that we don’t keep learning. I get lazy and read too much nonfiction; I work instead of taking time to attend conferences and get better at what I do. Try things outside your field, you’ll be surprised how exciting life is and how vibrant you become when you’re growing.

“Silence is not the enemy!” - Denise Ryan. Okay, so I’m no great master, but I know you need some silence to know who you are, to figure out what you want, to learn. And we have become terrified of silence. We get in our cars and immediately have to call someone or turn on music rather than be alone with our thoughts. We have to post things on Facebook rather than just sit and experience them. Silence lends itself to thinking, thinking makes you a person of depth - a person who knows who they are and what they want rather than someone who just does what everyone else is doing. (Only a complete loss of thinking can explain the popularity of the Kardashians.) Silence really is golden. Pay attention to how seldom you, and especially your children, experience it. Change that - turn off the TV or the computer or the music, silence the cell phone - have some quiet time.

More tomorrow!