"Open a chrysalis, and you kill the butterfly." I still remember the first time someone told me that because it seems counter-intuitive from the vantage point of how humans approach problems. If I could avoid a roadblock entirely, why wouldn't I? If I could take a shortcut to get through it faster, why wouldn't I? Of course, the butterfly wants to get on with its life, so why help them?
I've been struggling with a massive amount of writers' block this past week. No, it's not for lack of things to share. At present, I have over 200 article titles stubbed out as ideas. They just sit there waiting for me. Waiting for me to take the time, to prioritize them, and to birth them into the world.
I see this paradox play out every day. People tend to place a high value on knowledge, skills, and experiences that they lack while completely undervaluing what they already possess.
Buying a life insurance policy is a sobering experience. You get to answer uncomfortable questions like "How many years would you like them to live at your current lifestyle without you?" Of course, we'd love the answer to be forever, but that is hardly a realistic response. So you do your best to try and not feel ashamed or like an asshole asking whether or not five years would be enough. Thankfully, current average life expectancies are more than double my current age. I also lead a reasonably active lifestyle, so I pray the policy is never needed.
I flew 2,000 miles from Boston to Denver to meet my wife for the first time. I was excited as hell. I was also nervous as hell for many reasons. First, I would be staying at her parents' house. Making a positive first impression is already hard enough. Just imagine the pressure of knowing I didn't have the money to get a hotel if I messed that up! Second, we didn't know what each other looked like. We met in 2008, which was many years before it was customary to Facebook-stalk someone to confirm they were not a hot mess or a mass murderer.
I had a powerful conversation with a mentor yesterday, and it got me thinking about the paradox human connection in the era of the internet and social media. Specifically, technology provides us with endless opportunities to connect with anyone worldwide, yet we're seeing epidemics of isolation and disconnection. Why are so many people lacking strong friendships or communities to be a part of? This led to a thought exercise about the types of people we feel comfortable with reaching out to and what kinds of people we felt were unapproachable (thereby leading to more disconnection).
Today's busy world lures us into the trap of trying to fill each minute, each moment with something, anything, and everything. Worse, when we feel that we are behind or that there is not enough time, we double down on this approach. After all, it would seem paradoxical to slow down to speed up.
And yet, those among us who live from a place of serenity and/or peak performance embrace this approach. They don't cram more into less. They embrace the space.
Spoiler alert: it's not coffee. That can help treat the symptoms, but it's not addressing the root issue.
Today I woke up feeling great but quickly found myself in a funk. Worse yet, I didn't even have a good excuse as to why my mood and experience changed from hopeful to annoyed and frustrated. Isn't that messed up? I wanted to have an excuse because I wanted to blame something rather than come to terms that it might be random or (worse) my fault.
Regardless of what gets you into the fun, the most critical morning fix is... resetting your state.
One of my most treasured possessions is an annotated photo album that my brother made to capture all the memories of our family vacation to Plum Island. The way he combined the images with the story of our experiences was perfect. Every time I flip through that book, I'm teleported back to the farm where we picked blueberries, to the beach where my daughter cheered on the waves, and to the sailboat where the seagull perched on the captain's head while he fed him crackers. It was all magic.
There is a world of difference between a time permitting and a time permission mindset.
Take a few seconds and think about one of your most important goals or dreams. It could be something related to your family, your health, your finances, your career, a hobby, etc. If you have multiple options, just pick the first one because this mental exercise will work equally well for all of them.
Imagine you start your day by saying or thinking, “Time permitting, I will get to X today.”