A Grand Don’t Come for Free

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Do the work

Social media is still a game of numbers. The more followers you have, the more credible you appear. Removing the public follower count as Snapchat, Tumblr, and VSCO does, puts content first.

The entrepreneur bros on Instagram with one hundred thousand followers are all acts. The Ferrari, the yacht, and jewelry are props.
Dressing for success is a canard if there’s zero effort to put in the work to compensate the expectation.

There’s a gap between what someone thinks their worth and the amount of money in their bank account. You’re not a billionaire even when your ego tells you otherwise.

Putting on a show is real work for actors. Sharing an online facade is a substitute for real life that requires human effort. Skip a step and the lacking the fundamentals will be sure to let you know you’re out of place.


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Dreaming into your phone 

Go beyond the screen. (Photo by Oliur Ramen)
The electronic world disrupted reality and outsourced our dreams to phones. Marinating in the inspiration of bits and bytes merely moves things along.

Real change happens beyond the screen. It requires the force of physical presence.

Things evolve when you put yourself into them. The lean back experience is code for fear.


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The annihilation of space by time

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Tempus fugit. Time flies. But that's because we allow technology to accelerate it.

When we speed through life as we scroll through our Instagram feeds, seeing everything as “pictures on a wall,” we don't remember much. We get caught in looking at the rapidity of impressions rather than engaging in real wonders. We see the world like a rolling film, and any pause causes a fight with intolerable boredom.

The rush to speed through life and accomplish all our goals in quick succession is the fastest way to reach “the annihilation of space by time.” But if we walk and slow down, we can catch the everyday moments in between. Slowness is what stimulates.

Technology flattens time and our expectations along with it. We expect everything to be instantly digestible, a downloadable shortcut. The time we spend digging deeper — experiencing– is what puts the bones in the goose. Acknowledging that “it will never be finished,” opens up space and time to dream.

Read A Model Railway Journey


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Finding Your Purpose

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Is it better to be told what to do and ride around the racetrack of life or remain goalless, floating with the tide?

“We do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES…we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal.”

To pick a goal is to assume that there's an end. But we are always developing. Our perspective today is different than it was a decade ago, and so forth. Experience and knowledge change us.

Instead of searching for goals, Thompson implores, “look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life.”

All believing is betting. But God rewards the courageous. Almost always the assured outcome is the unique path we take ourselves.

“No one HAS to do something he doesn’t want to do for the rest of his life. But then again, if that’s what you wind up doing, by all means convince yourself that you HAD to do it. You’ll have lots of company.”

Read Hunter S. Thompson Letter on Finding Your Purpose


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Interrupt the routine

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Lose the map. (image via Sylwia Bartyzel)
Routines are more important than fears. They are an unconscious mechanism for quelling anxiety. They shut the mind up through automation.

The problem with routines though is that they become stale over time. The mind seeks continued stimulation. Maintaining excitement is the key to building a successful habit. So we mix up the workouts. We write about something different. We take a different route to work.

Even the slightest change prevents us from falling asleep to the predictability of reality.


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Keep them guessing

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What does it all mean? (Image via James Douglas)

They say write to be understood. But what's the point in spelling it all out?

It doesn't hurt to make an obscure reference here and there to keep the reader guessing. Said author Jonathan Franzen in lunch with the Financial Times:

“I think you have to have a few things that you have to kind of chew on to get.”

When you first listen to a new Radiohead song, something about it sounds off. But after a few listens, the sounds in between become just as important as Thom Yorke's lyrics. Nothing makes sense, but the emotional tug works.

It shouldn't be the author or musicians goal to demystify everything. The maker is often still figuring it out himself, going against their own interpretation.


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Move your phone to the living room

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Our phones are an escape from reality. We turn to them to avoid the tension of waiting.

Immediate gratification helps numb the stress of the moment. It also impedes our progress at work, relationships, and our innovation in general.

As Simon Sinek points out in the video below, the two things that take the most time to develop are our jobs and communication skills. There's no app to help us succeed at these difficult and messy things other than our willingness and patience.

All the time spent staring at screens instead of observing our surroundings impede the serendipitous discoveries that lead to innovation. How can we think of new ideas when we're preoccupied with a bright shiny object?

Our willpower is weak. To strengthen it, we can start by changing our habits. We can leave the phone behind when we go to dinner with friends and replace apps with a real alarm clock.

A phone is a convergence machine. It can do and be everything, yet get in the way of what's important. There's no way around the fact that good things take time which needs us to play the long game. We have to find enjoyment in this slow but steady process called life.


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New year, new you

If you want to predict your future, scan the collection of moments from the present to the past.

Presumably, there are some things you want to change going forward in the new year. But the want is usually temporary; passion ebbs after the initial boost of interest.

The game of goal setting is tricky. Most people start too high and end up quitting. One way to counter high expectations is lowering the target to make it feel like you're winning. Do three sets of one push-up instead of five. Run for half a minute. Read for 3 minutes. Do whatever it takes to rev up the emotional engine of accomplishment.

You are improvable. You care. This is why you have goals in the first place. A mind focused on progress defeats the stress of perfection. If you can remain consistent–maybe even a little excited–everything will take care of itself.


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