Wednesday, May 30, 2012

give yourself permission for your passion

So many of my clients are incredibly creative.  They have great ideas, spend time thinking about them, planning for them, and dreaming about executing them, but when it comes time to actually make it happen, something always gets in the way. 

I work with dancers, writers, musicians, actors, directors, mothers, teachers, strategists, lawyers, business people, you name it.  I believe creativity is not a what, it's a how.  It's not the content of your job, it's how you execute it.  It's not the title that you have, it's the passion you bring to everything you do (and not just work).

So, given that I work with such fabulously imaginative people, why aren't they all -- and why aren't we all, every one of us -- totally fulfilled, living out our dreams?  Because when it comes time to do something about our dreams, there is very often a voice that says "it's not good enough" or "I don't deserve it."

To that voice I say (fairly unceremoniously), "I appreciate that you're trying to protect me, but now if you wouldn't mind, please shutthefuckupthankyouverymuch."

There is no permission slip for passion.  There is no rule that says you have to be accepted for what you do.  Think about the books you remember -- not all of them are the greatest books you've ever read.  In fact, some are the absolute crappiest books you've read, which is why you remember them. 

One of my favorite creative geniuses, Ira Glass, has been famously quoted as saying, "All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

Give yourself permission to write your stories, sing your songs, dance your dances, and dream your dreams.  If you don't, who will?

Monday, May 21, 2012

worlds collide! (or, would liking Office 2010 more make me a better person?)

I may or may not have mentioned that, once upon a time, I was a technology trainer at a law firm, teaching  lawyers how to use their computers.  So I'm something of a Microsoft Office expert, though it's not a quality I whip out at a first meeting because, really, it's not my sexiest feature.

Recently I was upgraded at work to Office 2010.  For those of you who don't know (or don't care), it's pretty radically different from the version I had before:  instead of menus, which drop down, there are ribbons, which spread across (and aren't nearly as easter-baskety as I was hoping).  I could go into greater detail, but all you really need to know is that things changed, and I was not happy.

But here's the funny thing -- I work with change a lot.  I teach a class on resiliency and the importance of being able to flow with change.  I know that I should be focusing on the things I can control (e.g., my learning) instead of the things I can't (e.g., the fact that Ctrl+Shift+M no longer creates a new message but instead tells me that a feature in my voicemail isn't working).  I know that I'm in the "ending" phase, or possibly the "confusion" phase, and that, soon, I'll be onboard with all these great new features.  I know a lot about change, and yet... none of it actually makes it easier to use Outlook!

This is where the big question comes in -- am I more reluctant to changes in Outlook because I think I'm an expert in it?  And does identifying myself with the idea of "experthood" make it, in fact, harder to change?

I remind myself to have a beginner's mind with Outlook, to seek out other experts, and find work-arounds for the things that used to come "expertly."  But I won't deny that it's challenging and frustrating.  And it makes me worried -- am I more of an Office expert than I am a change expert?

And should I really be worried about being an expert at all?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

the math of dating

I read a cute little article in checkmatemagazine by Catherine Lowell that I thought I would share with you:

"One day in 1999, computer scientist Tristan Miller decided that he would never, ever find a girlfriend. As a tech genius with a sense of humor, he decided to do a comprehensive analysis to show why this might be the case.

His conclusion was simple: the math simply wasn’t in his favor. Using census data from 1998, he concluded that there was a 1 in 18,726 chance of finding “the one.”

Below is a simplified version of his logic.

Number of people on earth:   5,592,830,000

Number of females on earth:  2,941,118,000

Number of females in developed countries:  605,601,000

Number of females aged 18-25 in developed countries:  65,299,083

Number of those females who are “beautiful” (two standard deviations above the norm):  1,487,838

Number of those females who are intelligent, too (one standard deviation above the norm):  236,053

Number of those females who are also single (assuming 50% of women are single):  118,027

Number of interested women (assuming Tristan was one standard deviation above the woman’s average):  18,726

See his math in Why I Will Never Have a Girlfriend.

What Can This Mean!?

It means that if poor Tristan went on a blind date with a new girl every week, he might have to wait 67 years before he found the girl of his dreams.

What You Do!?
1.) Start dating at a very young age.
2.) Curse fate for handing you a statistical trap.
3.) Or… Chill out.

Tristan’s analysis exemplifies why looking for perfection in a partner is an exercise in futility. If you look for someone who is the top percentile of the top percentile, it will take you 67 years to find out that it’s hard to satisfy every box on your checklist.

Besides, imperfections make life much more interesting. Remember what Yogi Berra said: “If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.” An imperfect person might actually be the perfect person for you.

It’s not the best idea to go looking for a better version of yourself. If you work to become the best person you can be, dates will find you.

If you’re still discouraged… you can always apply to be Tristan Miller’s significant other."