Archive for July, 2013

Serendipity

Serindipity - treecloud

The random occurrence of circumstances conspiring in a manner to provide an opportunity or benefit for us seems so special that we’ve invented a word for it. Serendipity is basically a fancy word for experiencing good luck.

What we so often fail to realize is that events conspire for and against us on a regular basis. We just don’t usually encounter them as such. Sure, the cloud, season, time of day, position of the observer, and having the necessary equipment on hand all had to be just right for this picture to be possible. But it also required an ability to see it. To visualize and understand the significance of the opportunity to communicate something unique with a snapshot.

Every day opportunities pass us by because we don’t see that they are there. Similarly we also regularly avoid negative circumstances by narrow margins, sometimes without giving them a second thought. We trek through life making decisions and appreciating the good luck we recognize, sometimes giving ourselves more or less credit than we truly deserve. But we miss so much… If we could learn to be better observers of the world we surely would see a lot more beauty…and ugliness. We would be able to get more out of life and understand better how to put more into it.

It starts with seeing what is already there.

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Fleeting

…moments…

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I remember a Bill Cosby routine from many years ago where he made fun of his grandparents always saying things like, “You know who died yesterday?”

Life can be fleeting. As we age it seems like life can become more and more about death. Just in the past two weeks a parent of one of my best friends died, another friend of mine died today, and I just read that Mike Shipley died. I wrote a little about him in a past blog post.

That clock just keeps ticking, doesn’t it?

The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long

That can be true, but it doesn’t factor in the variable of wind. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

Sweet Spot

blankcanvassGood is the enemy of great.

Perfect is the source of paralysis by analysis.

How good is good enough? It depends on your passion. Some strive for perfection as comfort against insecurity. The only way to comfort for them is if the work is unimpeachable. Others rationalize that it’s “good enough” as a means to tranquilize themselves and avoid the burden of reaching for great. Lazy perhaps, or sometimes viewed as practical.

How often do you find that you are compelled or inspired by someone or something that is good enough? Good enough has a place in this world, but doesn’t really advance anything. Perfection is a noble goal, but in as much as it only can exist in the mind it doesn’t really accomplish anything. Too much expectation yields immobilization. Nothing actually happens.

Go for perfect. Settle for great. Great work stands out as great often because someone tried for perfect, but was determined to DO something even if perfection couldn’t be obtained.

The perfectionist has to suffer. Suffer to produce the truly great work. And suffer knowing it isn’t perfect. Knowing that she is vulnerable. She puts herSelf on the line, knowing it still might not be good enough.

Behind every beautiful thing, there is some kind of pain.  — Bob Dylan

90:10 is the new 80:20

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For years we’ve been hearing about the 80:20 rule. It’s more true than many people realize. In fact, these days it tends to be more like 90:10. Anything that works is so much more targeted now. More refined. More specific. Almost customized down to the individual level in some cases.

The takeaway is the same as ever. You don’t need to obsess over satisfying the masses. Find your group, your tribe, your audience, and delight them. If you don’t — as you get distracted with the periphery — someone else will. People seek delight, and they will find it. Don’t miss out by playing it too safe.

Appearance versus Looks

DogAppearance
We’ve all been told for years that looks/appearance is often a significant factor in how we are treated by others. Attractive people generally get more attention or offers (of all kinds), are treated more kindly, get more benefit of the doubt, higher salaries, etc.
The distinction between looks and appearance is a nuanced one, but important. The way a person looks is generally considered to weigh mostly factors he/she may not have a lot of control over. Call it genetically based physical characteristics. Appearance, on the other hand is considered to be more about putting forth the best look possible. Looks are innate, inherent. Appearance is designed, considered, and contextual.
Looks are not vital for success, although it does help a lot. Appearance is. A lack of attention to detail regarding appearance sends a message. It can go as far as to reflect one’s character or reputation. Most of us figured out these basics years ago, which is a major why people who look good get more. We respond to them as if they had something to do with it, which they did in many cases. We aren’t terribly good at being aware of the difference between the two, which represents an opportunity for you both as the viewer and viewed. This is yet another example of selling and show business in action. You can ignore it if you want to, but the effects are real and quantifiable.
And it’s not limited to our physical characteristics. It also pertains to persona, and even to what we touch and do. Take the time to wrap it up nicely. It makes a difference. But how you “appear” is ultimately all in the subjective eye of the beholder. Thus it helps to know your audience.

Sands

QuickSand

Cultures and sensibilities change…in time. Issues pertaining to race, for example, are handled very differently these days than 30 years ago. Not everyone is on board with equality (or in agreement about what constitutes equality), but more than ever are. This has also been very visible lately with same sex marriages. Some ideas go from fringe acceptance to a foregone conclusion in months (see countless internet examples).

It is sometimes necessary to legislate these things. To in a sense force people to comply, which understandably triggers a lot of angst as new ideas bump against our boundaries and trigger our emotions. You can fight change, but eventually certain things will move along without you if you don’t comply, and you will be left on the fringe…swallowed up and forgotten by the shifting sands of the rest of the world. Some people kick and scream along the way. It can be a point of pride to hold one’s ground for a while, but in the long run nearly all of us begin to comply in order to function effectively in society. And soon, as you acclimate and begin to act a certain way to avoid standing out too much…one does begin to actually change. Yes, it is possible to force people to change. Only the naive or posturing in stubbornness pretend this isn’t the case, and eventually they look like fools. It’s a very slow and uncomfortable process, but it happens…all the time. It is happening right now. It’s just usually at a pace too slow to see it, until one day we wake up and some new legislation passes or a landmark event occurs that gives us a signpost.

The sands keep drifting. You can’t sit still without being buried.



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