I spent the last week out in Boulder, Colorado. Part vacation and part biz.
Toward the end of the week, my director of photography for the Good Life Project™ (GLP) web show, Eric Michael Pearson, and I headed over the mountain to Keystone. We were on an adventure to film an interview with venture capitalist, Techstars co-founder, author, entrepreneur and just plain cool guy, Brad Feld (amazing, in-depth interview to come, btw).
It was a fantastic conversation. The reason we filmed Brad in Keystone and not Boulder, where he lives and I was staying, was that he’d taken the summer to be in “maker” mode. To allocate his energy to doing a very deep dive into his creative side. To think, run, write, synthesize and learn. And he was on a tear, writing a series of books that are sure to change the lives of so many in the startup community, running marathons and spending a ton of time with his wife every day.
Driving back over the mountain that afternoon, I felt a yearning. I wanted to “be Brad.”
Or so I thought…
Back in Boulder the next day, I kicked off a 3-day retreat I was facilitating, part of the 10-month GLP business and lifestyle training program. Featured faculty for this weekend included process guru, Charlie Gilkey, of Productive Flourishing. I love Charlie, he’s a genius. Every time he opened his mouth, every word, every idea, every process and strategy was so thoroughly thought-out, vetted, tested and synthesized, it was like receiving an intuitive knowledge transfer.
By the end of the weekend, I’d had another awakening. I now no longer just wanted to be Brad, I also wanted to be Charlie.
Or so I thought…
Because these trainings aren’t just about business, but about mindset and life, we began every morning with a short hike in the front range. The hike peaked with a meditation, perched high-up on a rock cluster with jaw-dropping views of what felt like all of Colorado (that’s the image above, btw).
It was during this meditation on the third day that I realized what I’d grown so envious of over the course of the last few days.
I love my life. I love my wife, my kid, my family, my friends, my work. I don’t want to be Brad or Charlie or anyone else I respect the hell out of. I’m very happy being me.
What was bubbling up was a realization. An uncomfortable one. That, in my own way and in my own arena, I was every bit as capable as them. But they’ve made setting aside the time, the focus, the attention and the energy to go deep into maven/creator mode a massive priority in their lives. Enough that they were able to generate outcomes and output on a level that came far closer to expressing their capabilities than I have lately.
That’s what was bugging me. Not that they were doing it. But that I wasn’t.
Their unbridled genius was a painful reminder of my hamstrung potential.
So, what to do?
Shift gears. My job became to own the last part of that sentence. The hamstrung potential. That’s on me. Nobody else, no circumstance to blame.
The responsibility and the need to change my state from hamstrung to awakened and released is entirely mine. To create the structure in my work and life that I’m so good at helping others create (I know, I know, cobbler’s kid bigtime, lol). To reallocate my intention, attention and time in a way that allows me to do what my friend, Michael Bungay Stanier, calls my great work.
It’s not about ego, by the way. Which is where a lot of people get tripped up.
No doubt, there is “marketing” value in bringing out work that makes a difference. It’s good for business. There is no way to strip self-benefit from the equation of helping others, regardless of your motivation. But, on a very personal level, at least for me, that’s not what it’s about.
I don’t care all that much about the need to be recognized or thanked. It’s not about glory, it’s about the work. The pursuit of knowledge, closing the gap between what I’m capable of creating and what I am currently creating. Finding and sharing meaning. Living into the insatiable curiosity, the experiments and conversations and desire to share whatever the process yields.
As Nobel laureate and legendary physicist, Richard Feynman shared, when asked about receiving the Nobel Prize:
I’ve already gotten the prize. The prize is the pleasure of finding the thing out, the kick in the discovery, the observation of the people who use it. Those are the real things. The honors are unreal to me.
With that, I’m about to shift gears for a bit. Starting with a two-month experiment in August and September.
I’ll have certain modest windows predefined for connecting and managing. The vast majority of my time, though, will be sacredly set aside for study, synthesis and creation. I’ll also be shifting my maker, manager and slacker blocks of time to best coincide with the natural rhythms that support each type of activity (more on this in an upcoming post).
Time to make a more serious commitment to people and activities that not only make me smile, but also support my ability to bring my best to the world. To do more great work.
Question is, what about you?
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