An Iteration Mindset: Embrace Failure on the Road to Success
Adopt A Mindset that Welcomes Iteration Iteration is how creation works. If you’re a creator, having a mindset that lets you learn, adapt, and try
Given my total lack of interest in, and knowledge of, numerology, this number has no inherent meaning to me.
Fika Friday #22
“The farmer and the horse” – from the Taoist tradition
Citizens before consumers
One of the challenges of living in a society that encourages its members to …
Thanks to those who took me up on the offer to share some of your principles with me.
Identify 10 Principles You Live By
It’s been a useful exercise to articulate a set of principles that support what I’m up to.
2 Ways to Heal Trauma: The Stories We Tell and TRE
The newest member of our family is a 14-month-old Labradoodle named Charlie.
Online Men’s Groups and 4 More Life Upgrades
Story is like software.
Fika Friday #21
“The Path” by Rachel Naomi Remen
Personal Story Coach
I’ve been working on a new project for a few months now.
It has become clear in the last couple of months that …
I started this blog, along with my new coaching website, last September on my birthday.
The Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello wrote that waking up is unpleasant.
In the beginning was the conclusion
I wrote recently about Daniel Kahneman’s delineation of System One (automatic) and System Two (deliberative) thinking.
Fika Friday #20
“Greater than the sum of its parts” by Rachel Naomi Remen
A temporary condition
The wisdom traditions all talk about impermanence.
Informed by his own disabilities (from birth and mid-life) …
Myth and reality
Storyteller Kevin Kling says that, when he turns something into a story, it doesn’t control him anymore.
Growing from and toward
The storyteller Kevin Kling notes that, when we are born with a loss …
The large and powerful run a greater risk of presuming their own indispensability.
Fika Friday #19
“Getting Clear” by Rachel Naomi Remen
In his memoir Born a Crime, Trevor Noah reflects on the nature of “the hood.”
Setting the bar
A therapist friend of mine has a number of outstanding clients right now …
The availability heuristic
The availability heuristic recognizes our tendency to think that what we see is all there is.
Each of us has an “experiencing self” and a “remembering self” — and they are very different.
Less reasonable than we think
System One is an almost instantaneous story generator.
Fika Friday #18
“All in the family” by Rachel Naomi Remen
Beliefs and reasons
The reason why it is very hard to argue someone out of a belief is that …
The classic economic theory embedded in western democracies assumes that …
The long view
Taking the long view – returning hope to our interpretation of the data – is not exclusively the property of the marginalized …
A needed reckoning
If we are going to save ourselves, the time is near where a reckoning must happen.
Seeing the beyond of it
There’s a prayer composed by the late Roman Catholic Bishop Ken Untener …
Fika Friday #17
“L’Chiam!” by Rachel Naomi Remen
Beyond here be dragons
Humanity has mastered more of the mysteries of nature than people as recently as a century or two ago might have thought possible.
The ways of the past
Conflicts are literally the way of the past.
The problem of diversity
For most of human history, most people have lived among people who are pretty much the same as themselves.
Body and soul
There is a long history in the west of denigrating the body and privileging the mind.
We know more than we can say
While I was in my first year of university …
Fear, courage, discernment
I had never heard of the US gymnast Simone Biles until one of my daughters was raving about her on Monday.
Stop Resisting Negative Emotions. Do This Instead
“The healing is in the return … Not in not getting lost in the beginning.” – Sharon Salzberg
The psychotherapist Esther Perel observes that …
Fika Friday #15
Untitled story – as told by the Rev. Otis Moss III
The better angels of our nature
Social scientist Nicholas Christakis has coined the term social suite …
Today we had a post-covid visit with a friend we hadn’t seen for a long time.
One of my favourite quips from 2020 was: “the unprecedented use of the word ‘unprecedented’.”
We work inward to work outward
Emotions are not stories.
Emotions are not stories.
Fika Friday #14
“The Way Out of Fear” – as told by Pema Chödrön
How we are
Humans may well be the only species with language for our emotions.
Past is prologue
Humanities professor John D. Niles, in a book called …
I received a text message the other day from a friend.
The Art of Listening
Almost a decade ago, in an article in The New York Times Sunday Review called “The Art of Listening,” …
Fika Friday #13
“Buddha is abused” as told by Anthony de Mello
Entering the tomb
Grief is a primary human emotion, and grieving an essential process.
Getting it wrong
We live in a world increasingly intolerant of getting things wrong.
Botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Robin Wall Kimmerer, …
The other lane
My perception is that I am the victim of a statistical anomaly …
Fika Friday #12
“A story and a song” as told by A. K Ramanujan
What exactly is it we celebrate when we observe an anniversary?
Yesterday I wrote about heat – specifically when there’s too much of it.
Summer is traditionally, for many, a time for slowing down.
The benefit of the doubt
Everyone wants it. To be given it is priceless.
Geraniums and juncos
Choosing willingness is particularly powerful when we are not able.
Fika Friday #11
“Singleheartedness” as told by Saskia Shakin
Willingness vs. ability
It’s nice when both qualities come together, but it doesn’t always happen.
Language vs stories
There are five groups of mammals that use language…
The Reticular Activation System is the part of our brain that …
On June 15, our provincial government lifted the restriction on traveling in BC.
Fika Friday #10
“Alexander and Diogenes” as told by E.H. Gombrich
COVID-19 as kairos
Without wanting to fetishize the pandemic …
A question asked in more and more contexts is
Wisdom and technology
This weekend, I heard a First Nation elder say “technology needs to be guarded by wisdom.”
One hundred sentences
Somewhere, recently, I either heard or read …
Inspiration or comparison
When presented with another person’s success, we get to choose …
Fika Friday #9
“Only a Visitor” as told by Anthony DeMello
Confidence and hope
Confidence is statistically verifiable. Evidentiary. Rational. That which we can reasonably predict based on the facts before us.
Naturalist and author, Michael McCarthy, points out that we contain, deep within us …
In Japanese and Korean, the word mu means “not have” or “without” …
From a newsletter for spiritual directors/companions I receive: …
A friend of mine recently observed how his subjectivity is always moving …
In Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises …
‘Tis the season. June is the month when …
A few years ago, I was on a boat to one of the small islands in Howe Sound …
Pádraig Ó Tuama relates the anecdote …
John Paul Lederach has devoted his life to building peace in places like Columbia and Northern Ireland.
Fika Friday #7
Winning at 50
Last weekend, the golfer Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship.
We know instinctively what to do with stories.
Vincent Harding suggested that for all kinds of political, economic and psychological reasons …
We experience what was
The encounter with otherness is essential for growth.
Witnesses, not spectators
Rabbi Ariel Burger, a student of Elie Wiesel, says that Wiesel literally did not sleep well at night …
Fika Friday #6
“The monk and the boat”
The origin of racism was a story
The beginning of racism as we think of it today began in 1453.
Out of our mouths
Jason Reynolds notes that one of the things the pandemic has taught/reminded us …
The space around the edges
If you have ever seen an old Jewish text …
Fika Friday #5
“The monk and the boat”
Our first story
Before we create and inhabit the stories of our own choosing, we inhabit the story we are raised in.
Yesterday morning, some people received this blog several hours later than usual.
Emotions, part 5
Using anger as an example of the difference between constructive and destructive emotions,
Emotions, part 4
The psychologist Michelle Shiota affirms that …
Emotions, part 3
The stories we tell ourselves are often tied to underlying beliefs.
Fika Friday #4
“The treasure” – by Martin Buber
Emotions, part 2
Our emotions are not responses to objective situations.
Emotions, part 1
Michelle Shiota, a psychologist who studies emotion, …
It’s a well-intended sentiment and encouragement.
Motion is not action
Like a disengaged gear spinning, or like Wile E. Coyote – legs still moving…
A pagan festival celebrating the arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere …
Fika Friday #3
“True Satisfaction” – by Anthony de Mello
Believing vs. trusting
Believing and trusting are related, but different.
On Sunday, my wife and I had our first vaccine dose.
Albert Einstein has been quoted as saying that …
Fearing the vulnerable
What are the things we owe each other?
Fury as a function of learning
Learning can be very upsetting and can set off a lot of negative emotions.
Fika Friday #2
“Wrestling with the Angel” by Naomi Rachel Remen
Being vs. doing
That’s often how it is set up: either-or.
“Working smarter” is not a starting position.
There is a direct relationship between storytelling and power.
Becoming, part 5
Rather than the language of the “true” and “false” self, I prefer the “essential” self.
Becoming, part 4
In some circles, the ego gets a bad rap.
Fika Friday #1
Welcome to the newest stage in the evolution of my daily blog:
Becoming, part 3
Reality, it turns out, is a matter of perspective.
Becoming, part 2
Alongside and mingled together with the versions of our life offered by the world …
Becoming, part 1
Becoming the truth of who we are is the work of a lifetime.
If you have been following this thread and are wondering …
Improvement, part 5
Personal confession: for those who speak Enneagram, I am a ONE.
Improvement, part 4
The constant push to improve is not only exhausting.
Improvement, part 3
Social media encourages people to project unrealistic lives into the universe for the rest of us to envy.
Improvement, part 2
The US market for self-help books has nearly doubled since 2013.
Improvement, part 1
There is an almost-unquestionable assumption baked into modern western culture …
Freedom, part 4
When it comes to the most important occurrences in religious traditions, …
Freedom, part 3
This week also sees the Christian observance of Holy Week …
Freedom, part 2
Freedom doesn’t always feel that great.
Freedom, part 1
This week marks an important time in two thirds of the great spiritual traditions from the “west.”
Impermanence, final (for now)
Some of the events in our life are within our control while others are not.
Impermanence, part 4
We are storied creatures. We cannot help but live by stories.
Impermanence, part 3
There is nothing inherently wrong with creating a story …
Impermanence, part 2
Telling a story about a thought, feeling, or experience …
Impermanence, part 1
Dualities like “us and them” are one of the ways our stories lead to confusion between reality and interpretation.
Us and them
The stories we tell are frameworks to structure experience.
Four billion beats
In the last minutes of my father’s life …
AirBnB and marijuana in New York
At the beginning of January, lawmakers in New York …
Hi, how are you?
Some final insights from the poet, novelist and teacher Ocean Vuong:
Primitive in our language
“I knocked it out of the park.”
The German philosopher, cultural critic, and essayist, Walter Benjamin, said that the novel is actually a break from storytelling.
When my father was born in Minden, Nebraska in 1923 …
The silent majority
We, the living, are the vocal minority.
Convergence, part 3
In the mingling of the rivers, there are so many stories …
Convergence, part 2
As the river that is a life – a library of tales, fables, myths, legends, poems and narratives of every description – approaches the ocean …
Convergence, part 1
One of the places our stories converge is around loss and grief.
When humans want to make sense of something, we look for the familiar.
Noticing, part 3
Learning to see the same things other people see – but differently – requires space.
Noticing, part 2
Once a person is inspired by the artists and the poets …
This week marks half a year for this blog.
When we encounter the universe that is another person, we have a menu of choices of how to respond. Rabbi Ariel Burger observes two challenges
The ninth symphony
n the last decade of his life, completely deaf, Ludwig van Beethoven created his Ninth Symphony.
The fourth quarter
I’m learning about marketing for my new coaching practice.
There is an important insight about the psycho-spiritual journey …
Seeing is valuing
If we choose to see the world as the source for whatever we need …
“I have climbed highest mountains”
The Irish rock band, U2, spoke to it for a generation or two of pop music lovers …
Facts and opinions
It is possible to believe that there is such a thing as universally valid reason …
Invented by the Japanese in 1994, the QR code has always been …
The human brain is a prediction machine.
Yearning for that which we are not
Part of being human involves a deep yearning for something beyond ourselves.
Ideology is like a skeleton.
Conventional thinking, part 1
I recall a (really smart) friend of mine saying, many years ago,
Advertising. Social media. Entertainment and other distractions.
For many, the words leave a negative taste in the mouth:
The fierce urgency of now
At the March on Washington in 1963,
The writer Elizabeth Gilbert reminds us that we are all descendants of makers:
Break a leg
The beauty and danger of the internet are that everything is there.
The stories we tell, part 2
The stories we tell have the power …
The stories we tell, part 1
The author, Anaïs Nin, wrote that …
A welcome place
Even though solitude is an inherently value-neutral word, many in western cultures would think of it negatively.
Solitude and loneliness
According to the Buddhist teacher Stephen Batchelor, author of Alone with Others and The Art of Solitude, …
Possession and care
In her groundbreaking (no pun intended) book,
Multi-tasking vs. task switching
Where focus is required, multitasking is a neurological impossibility.
The shape of the 20th century was the pyramid.
The Czech dissident and first post-communist president Vaclav Havel said …
The real thing
The great wisdom traditions agree that:
Have you ever thought of yourself as part of a living tool box?
It’s one thing to ponder what it is we’re waiting for.
The comparing mind
Malicious code refers to tiny pieces of code that can wreck computers: viruses, trojan horses, worms, etc. They are introduced to a computer when the
Societies often construct themselves around bad ideas, …
Sleeping with bread
Before it was the title of a book, it was a story from the bombing raids of World War 2 Europe.
The mind and the heart are very often somewhere in the past or the future.
When life inevitably takes us in half a dozen directions all at once, …
My friend Peter wrote to me about a recent Psychology Today article …
How you play the game
Blessed with minimal athletic ability, I had many opportunities …
We have more choices and decisions to make in a day than any other humans in the history of the species.
Forgiveness is hard.
When I was in elementary school, I was neither athletic nor popular.
We all have them. They may be to charismatic teachers …
If you are playing a game you can never win, why not stop?
Most human cultures – including our own – in one way or another lean on fear.
The artist and the art
The biggest, most important task we can undertake is that of becoming our true self.
The grand vision
The difference between the masters and the rest of us is not that they were born with a larger vision
One only has to spend a little time in any state of awareness of what’s going on…
Reflecting on isolation, a friend notes that, to the extent that our sense of self derives from our interactions with others, when we are cut off, those parts of us begin to atrophy.
Everywhere you go – inside yourself or in the world – there is a conversation going on.
The narrative of our time
What might be called “the narrative of our (any) time” is never singular.
The wisest people I have encountered have at least one thing in common:
Another of Fred Craddock’s stories:
Intentions and Values
As I said yesterday, a resolution on its own is not robust enough to effect change.
For many years I refused to make new year’s resolutions.
Refusing to refuse
The poet and philosopher David Whyte observes that humans seem to have the unique quality to resist being who we are.
A too-small reality
It is easy to get caught in the web of a too-small vision of reality
We are creatures of habit. We like to know what we know.
Most of the things that end up on a “to do” list are goals.
Its archaic origins shrouded in the mists of time, “Boxing Day” dates back to the 1830s
Today, Christians around the world (minus the Orthodox churches) celebrate the feast of Christmas.
Simplicity and complexity
Oliver Wendell Holmes is quoted as saying,
Knowing is not doing
It’s so obvious a statement that it’s not particularly interesting. It illustrates the point that knowing something (saying “knowing isn’t doing”) by itself is not very compelling.
The speed of trust
In addition to the title of a book by Steven Covey, this is a principle “with legs.”
Delight and despair
The ability to select for danger has an evolutionary advantage. So does the ability to select for love.
When, along with Elvis, compassion and patience have left the building:
Planning for the inevitable
I recently heard a friend describe the practice of midwifery as “planning for the inevitable.”
The surprise can be the gift
A friend of mine is known to wrap up and give as gifts the most mundane items.
Who is your “us”?
Every person is the hero of their own story.
John Paul Lederach is an academic, mediator, negotiator, peacebuilding practitioner, trainer and consultant at the forefront of international peace building efforts.
The term “critical mass” comes from physics.
If you want to go fast
“If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb
In western, individualist, technological society, know-how is privileged.
Go slow to go fast
Whether one is talking about product development, dog training, weight loss, or just about anything else, “go slow to go fast” is a reliable basic principle.
When it comes to large-scale cultural and social change, the actor and artist America Ferrera says …
Your 200-year present
Elise Boulding was a Norwegian-born, American Quaker sociologist …
One layer at a time
There is a Chinese proverb that says one cannot make rice plants grow faster by pulling on their tops.
Being and becoming
Each of us is a mixture of being and becoming.
We spend a lot of our lives being miserable about things that are either over or haven’t happened.
The freedom paradox
Freedom parallels money in that people with either too little or too much of it are frequently unhappy.
Happiness and Joy: Understandings and Nuance
Happiness makes a fine road-side stop, and a poor destination.
A friend was reflecting on the feelings of overload and paralysis
In the world of stories, there are beginnings, middles and endings.
Taking your time
From where? And from whom?
The sun also rises
The Buddhists tell this story:
Hope, part 5
The future is not the same as now, only with rocket packs.
Hope, part 1
November 1, 1989: the 28-year-old Berlin wall (and the cold war it symbolized) was going to last forever.
Once upon a time, a man had finished evening prayers and stood contemplating the night sky.
As long as we try to hang on to what is or what has been …
Reason and reality
Some statements that once upon a time were verifiably “true:”
Where did your name come from?
While it has nothing to do with the actual etymology of the word, “remember” connotes putting back together
The world’s major spiritual traditions all agree
Regarding that minor existential question “why?”
The statue of responsibility
The psychiatrist and existentialist philosopher Viktor Frankl suggested that
So much to love, part 2
If we see ourselves first as public citizens with souls
So much to love, part 1
Culturally, we appear to be committed to an impoverished definition of love:
The value of knowledge
There was a time when humans believed we lived on a flat earth with sky above us.
Candles and Stories
Our son, Ben, and his partner recently bought his sister a birthday present
Getting there from here
When we think about how to travel from where we are to where we want to go
Doing vs. being
My life used to be inextricably bound to a “to do” list.
This morning’s paper (print and digital) contains a front-page article
Re-narrating our encounters
A Buddhist monk, when asked how he copes with moving through the world,
In her book The Writing Life, American author Annie Dillard asks,
The Mexican-American author Sandra Cisneros has said
Happenings, not things
Physicists tell us that there is no such thing as “here” and “now.”
“It seems to me …” – Albert Einstein, from the introduction to his article introducing quantum mechanics.
The breakfast reset hypothesis
My son-in-law has developed what he calls the “breakfast reset hypothesis.”
Two kinds of people
“There are two kinds of people in the world:
The Fourth Primary Colour
There isn’t one. Investing your energy into looking for the fourth primary colour is pointless.
The Invisibility of the Daily
There is simply too much information in our environment for us to take it all in. Doing so would paralyze us.
Recently, my wife told me about an 11-year old picture Facebook reminded her about:
(Not) Indiana Jones
I knew a man who emigrated from England to make a fresh start.
Of Greyhounds and Rabbits
There are lots of great storytellers out there. The American pastor and Professor of New Testament and Preaching, Fred Craddock was one of them.
We’re inundated with language: social media; advertising; political discourse; entertainment.
The Scouting motto is “Be Prepared.” But for what? And why?
“Climbing the ladder”
Different people focus on climbing different ladders:
5 (Free) Ways to Gratitude
Thankfulness is connected to our experience of having received something we didn’t earn.
Stories Sisyphus Could Be Telling Himself
“There are worse rocks and worse hills. At least this rock is not that heavy, and this hill is not that steep.”
The Volume Paradox
One of the results of media is amplification.
Education and Information
Democracy (and other meaningful ways of living together) requires, amongst other things, an educated citizenry and open media.
We need elder wisdom more than ever
Humans demonstrate an interesting and rare evolutionary paradox:
Mind the gap
When you board the underground train at Heathrow airport in London, a disembodied voice warns you to “mind the gap”
Our culture prizes certainty. In our adversarial political and legal systems, to admit not knowing or, worse, to admit being wrong, is perceived as the kiss of death.
“We Make the Road by Walking”
The roads we travel are usually made for us.
There used to a saying (on bumper stickers, sweat shirts, etc.): “No Fear.”
Think about three people you know who you dislike or find annoying.
It was the summer of 1988 during the Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea.
Once upon a time, there were two seeds that lay side by side in the warm, fertile spring soil.
A story from the Hindu tradition:
Once upon a time, a traveling monk reached the outskirts of a village and settled down under a tree for the night.
It’s difficult to take a risk without trusting that the risk will lead us closer to that which we seek.
Labels can be a helpful shorthand: signs that tell us a lot in a glance, or a few words.
How important is your story?
We live on stories and the culture is always pushing stories at us.