We’re never ready

Oh sure, maybe we’re ready for the easy stuff. Ready to leave for work, make dinner, hop in an Uber, do the laundry, pay the credit card bill.

But the work that matters, that enlivens the spirit, that changes us, our tribes and the world around us? That’s another thing entirely.

Naming our fear is helpful, because it is our fear that keeps us stuck.

Letting go of any notion of perfection–the right time, the right skills, the right conditions–is useful as well.

Being willing to get started–to accept that the only way we can ever really know that we are on the right path is to start walking; slowly at first, but faster and faster as we gain confidence–is essential.

Because here’s the thing…

The conditions will never be perfect.

I have no idea what’s going to happen in the future. And neither do you.

Chances are you already have everything you need to take that first step.

And sure it might not work.

Like it or not it’s later than we think.

The fact is we’re never really ready for what really matters.

But we can still start.

What better time than now?

This post was simultaneously posted on my business blog at http://www.stevenpdennis.com

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When we live in fear

When we live in fear we spin endlessly in worry about the future, rather than seeing the beauty and potential available to us right here, right now.

When we live in fear we assume the immigrant is coming to take our job–or even to kill us–rather than appreciating that they might be the next Einstein or Hamilton. Or that they are simply deserving of compassion and safe refuge.

When we live in fear we cling to the false idolatry of perfection, rather than celebrate our inevitable mistakes, our rough edges, the cracks that let the light in.

When we live in fear we seek validation from others, rather than accept our inherent worthiness and warmly embrace our differences.

When we live in fear we only see the worst case scenario, rather than have faith that we can handle just about anything that might come our way.

When we live in fear we are alone, disconnected, detached, instead of being held safe in the knowledge that we are all in this together.

When we live in fear so much of our energy is wasted trying to control the uncontrollable.

When we live in fear our starting point tilts toward hate, not love and toward revenge, instead of forgiveness.

When we live in fear we see change as the enemy, the dragon to be slain, when dropping our sword, taking off our armor and letting down our guard might just allow us to tap into a world of abundance and unleash a little bit of magic.

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Holy stuckosity Batman!

“Stuckosity” isn’t a real word. It can’t even be found at Urban Dictionary. Well, at least not yet.

But certainly most of us are familiar with the quality of being stuck. Perhaps you’re feeling it right now.

We get stuck telling the same old stories about ourselves that are familiar, but serve no useful purpose.

We get stuck trying to solve problems with the same level of thinking that got us into trouble in the first place.

We get stuck defending the status quo, even when we know it’s not working.

We get stuck in self-righteousness, which almost never changes the other person’s mind or behavior, but frustrates us to no end.

We get stuck fighting reality, re-litigating the past, trying vainly to predict the future.

We get stuck striving for perfection, when perfect is both impossible and, ultimately, only a recipe for suffering.

We get stuck waiting for precisely the right time and to be fully ready, failing to see that those exact conditions will never ever come.

We get stuck in relationships because we fail to speak our truth and ask for what we want and need.

We get stuck unleashing our full potential because we wonder how other folks will judge us if we were to go out on a limb.

And on and on and on.

The key to getting unstuck is to first see it for what it is. And most of the time our stuckness is merely our habitual reaction to an irrational fear; to a fundamental misunderstanding of risk.

Once we become aware that staying in our fear–and being unwilling to let go of our story, our need for control and our desire to be right–is actually the most risky thing we can do, the door is cracked open to change.

Once we we accept that our behavior is simply habit, the debilitating result of a lifetime of bad conditioning, we can work to establish new, more healthy and useful ones.

Once we are committed to take action, we are finally free. Free to start before we are ready. Free to embrace failure as a natural outcome of growth. Free to be okay with our imperfection.

And that’s good thinking Robin.

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This post also appeared on my business blog at http://www.stevenpdennis.com

At the risk of stating the obvious… 

All we have is this present moment. Time spent trying to re-litigate the past or predict the future is time wasted.

It’s better to choose forgiveness over revenge, love over hate.

You are enough. We all are.

This too shall pass.

Gratitude is a super power.

We all get afraid. Keep going.

The wolf we feed is the wolf that wins.

If we are serious about change we need to do the work. Otherwise, we need to shut up and stop complaining.

Talk less, smile more.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

When given a choice between adopting a learning mindset or a judging mindset, choose the former. Spoiler alert: we always have a choice.

Let it go.

Seriously, just let it go.

We want to be finished. We’re never going to be finished.

If you are anything like me, you probably know all these things to not only be true, but rather obvious upon any level of basic reflection.

But knowing something to be true is not the same as doing it.

We can fully appreciate that knowledge is valuable, but that nothing actually changes until we put our knowledge into action. Until we practice what we preach. Until we make mistakes, recalibrate and get back out in the arena powered by a deep awareness that we all have an expiration date and that what we do makes a difference.

We can read books about heaven or we can practice actually creating heaven on earth. And more often than not we have to start before we are ready.

Obviously.

 

h/t to the Reverend Aaron White for helping inspire this post.

So much of any year is flammable

At a time when many of us are reflecting upon (dissecting?) the year that just ended and now find ourselves perhaps already struggling to live up to a new set of resolutions, I’m reminded of the words of the poet Naomi Shihab Nye:

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.
 
So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.
 
Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.
 
Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

So much of life is impermanent.  So much is out of our control despite the illusion that often holds us, twists us around, sends our monkey minds into overdrive and compels us to grip the wheel even harder.

Very little of what consumes our thoughts, fills most of our days and fuels our resentments matters one little bit over the long run. Much of it doesn’t even serve any useful purpose right this very second.

We don’t need another resolution. We need better perspective, mindful awareness, radical acceptance, an open heart, the courage to act.

So rather than sweat the small stuff or lament the things that only access to a time machine would allow me to fix, I’m looking ahead, without a long list of impossible to meet resolutions, mindful of the important things I have yet accomplish, where the crackle still calls.

Our fight with reality

I hate that Donald Trump is set to become the next President of the United States, but indeed he won the election.

I regret the many times my actions have hurt other people, in ways big and small, but that is what happened.

Our simple and beautiful humanity dictates that we will make mistakes despite our quest for perfection.

Lots of bad things are going to happen to us–and around us–regardless of our desire that things would (or should) be otherwise.

Like it or not, one day death will knock upon our door.

We can’t go back and change the past. And we are, in fact, rarely able to dictate nearly as much of the future as we believe.

Yet many of us wake up everyday ready to take on an unchangeable set of circumstances, girded to re-litigate the past, hell bent on controlling the uncontrollable.

The one thing we know for sure about fighting reality is that it is exhausting. And when we endeavor to control or manipulate other people to conform to our desired reality we are almost certain to make things worse.

My college academic advisor had a plaque on his office wall that read: “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it only annoys the pig.”

Yup.

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Objects in the rear view mirror are smaller than they appear

If you are anything like me, events from the past can sometimes loom quite large. And my attention and emotional energy can spin in regret; my monkey mind can get stuck in a world of “should have’s” and “if only’s.”

Maybe it’s a big mistake we made or a significant opportunity we let slip from our grasp.

Perhaps it’s the trauma from our childhood getting triggered, losing a job or important relationship, or any number of times we didn’t show up as our best selves for the people we care about.

It could be resentments we still hold on to that prevent us from extending love unconditionally, or simply being at peace with what is, rather than being trapped by what was.

Other times we cling to and can’t let go of a memory of good times that somehow drifted away or were quashed by forces beyond our control.

The past is here to teach us in the present moment. But we should not give it any more power than it deserves. It is only as big as we allow it to be.

Our journey is not made easier by carrying around the heavy rocks of resentment in our backpacks or engaging in endless battles with things we cannot change.

As Haruki Murakami famously observed, “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”

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