Creation Over Consumption

The human brain doesn’t learn based on consumption, it learns through creation.
– Jim Kwik

Writing for me is the best way I know of thoroughly learning anything. Writing to me is taking a concept that you understand on the surface and molding it into your own words. I realized this fact months ago by starting this blog. However, for whatever reason I stopped.

Why? The reasons seemed to change depending on my current mood when I asked myself. The blunt truth is I rationalized not doing it. It was the election, not knowing what to say, not having energy etc. When I originally started, my goal was simple: improve my writing and continue the chain so I would have a body of work to look back on. I really don’t have a good reason why I stopped. The only explanation that makes sense now is that I didn’t see the benefits at the time anymore. It became a burden. It felt like homework. I told myself “I thought I was done with homework years ago.” There is nothing worse than feeling like a once joyous activity is now homework. Even if intellectually we know something is good, when it feels like a burden and we forget why we’re doing it, we will abandon it. Our feelings toward something morph and change, and we often struggle figuring out why. Some reasons this may happen are simply with the passage of time or because of the new uses of technology. We are so overwhelmed in our lives, things are constantly changing that we don’t associate our own reasons for doing the things we once loved.

So I’ve had enough, I’m picking it back up. I’m giving it a shot, one additional push. This is my peripeteia. And I have to credit a friend for it, because sometimes that what’s we were missing—someone to show us how much we used to enjoy something and how we could gain from doing it again. Simple, right? Yes and no. She told me I had until Friday to post, and it is Friday evening as I squeeze this out. I fought every reason why I shouldn’t do it, but I gave her my word; so here it is. It may not be the quality I want, but the act of doing is so much more important.

Asking Better Questions: What I Learned During My Hiatus

In the time I’ve been away, one thing I’ve learned that has had a powerful effect on me is asking better questions. More specifically, asking empowering questions. So instead of asking “Why haven’t I written in awhile?” a better question would be simply “what is exciting in my life that I want to write about?” When I realized my questions weren’t as empowering as they could be, I stole and modified an idea I heard from James Altucher. His suggestion for coming up with better ideas is all about building up the brain strength by practicing writing ideas and in essence becoming better at idea generation. I’ve taken it one step further and said before coming up with ideas, come up with great questions.

A core belief that has shaped my personal and professional destiny is that if I continue to ask any question, I will receive an answer. All we need to do is to create a better question, and we’ll get a better answer. A metaphor I sometimes use is that life is just a Jeopardy! game; all the answers are there—all you have to do is come up with the right questions to win. – Anthony Robbins

So I’ve been replacing my morning journaling with my own morning power questions session. What questions do you think could empower you to pick something up you have been putting off? What can you gain from writing those questions down? What could that do for you if you started it now?

True to Yourself 

Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day. – John Wooden

This quote gives me inspiration to take advantage of the days ahead where I’ll feel 100%. I’ve been itching for that moment–nothing like catching a cold does that. 

As hard as it is to do, I’ve been looking for the silver lining for this cold. In any moment of adversity or challenge, I think that’s when we’re most likely to give in. I didn’t want to to succumb or admit I was ill. I tried pushing through it–staying late at the office, showing properties, blogging and networking in the evenings. Even when I was clearly sick, I wanted to read one of my many business books and listen in on the newest Harvard Business Review podcast. However, pushing myself too strenuously clearly contributed to me catching this cold. 

While giving in to rest felt like a weakness, in fact it was a chance to regroup and come back stronger. Putting it in perspective made me remember from past experiences that I usually feel very lively after overcoming a cold because I’m so ecstatic to be clear headed after days of misery. And while I would have rather been healthy throughout, it was my body that told me it was time to rest. 

The Trust Equation 

This is another homage to Emotional Equations as I referred to in an earlier post. I’ve been using this equation for thinking about how we build trust within our organizations and within our relationships. And it simply comes down to a simple equation. It looks like this: 

What you actually do / What you say you’ll do

The higher the fraction, the better. If it is 1, then you really keep true to your word and people believe what you say. If it is less than one, that’s a different story. The lower the fraction, the lower the value of your word. Understanding this balance is key. People are always comparing what you say with what you do. They might not track it in a formal way with an equation, but they’re still doing it. That’s why even on a Friday evening, I’m keeping my word and making sure I get my daily post in. Even if the trust building is with myself and no one in particular.