Deadwood Chokes Life Away, Scabs Protect Life, Figure Out Which is Which

Fire isn’t just our toy, it clears deadwood

Ever since we humans controlled fire, there is an inclination to think of it as purely our pet. We even talk about it as that way in our stories. For example, the story of Prometheus. In the story, we receive fire from Prometheus. Fire isn’t a force of nature, but a gift to spite the gods.

Fire, however, is a naturally occurring thing.

Forests last a long time. Fire is a big reason.

Forests accumulate deadwood. Deadwood, once it accumulates, chokes away the forest because it takes resources. That’s where fire comes in. Fire eliminates the deadwood.  It clears the ground so that new things can grow. It is essential because if it doesn’t, then the forest eventually dies.

When we cut ourselves, we get scabs. They look ugly. We shouldn’t however, scratch them off.  Scabs are necessary; they keep the body safe from infection.

One of the most critical skills a leader or creative can develop is understanding what deadwood is and what is a scab.The treatment for one is the exact cause of death for the other.

Tomorrow I am going to talk about how different styles tend to one or the other.  For now, think about experiences in your life where you needed to burn things away or when you needed to let things “sit.”


Honor is Worth Remembering

Hiding is painful.

Can’t dispute that. The embarrassment we feel when things don’t go right stings.

We remember the pain.As a result, those are the memories we have.

However, something funny happens after some time.

If we admitted something, stood up for somebody, or did anything else noble, we remember it with pride.

No matter how much it stings, no matter what we paid for it.

Ask yourself, can today be that day?

Is today worth remembering?

Don’t Add to Your Minefield

A minefield is scary

A mine is a bomb that someone placed below the surface. When you step on that bomb, it explodes. A minefield is a field of multiple mines.

When you are in one, each step is a reminder that it could be your last.

I look at projects like minefields. The stakes are lower, of course. However, when stepping into the unknown, each step feels like the step that blows the project up.

That’s why we have to make sure we don’t put any mines down ourselves.

This happens two ways:

Daring to dream is hard enough. Don’t make things harder.


Don’t Let Yourself Give Yourself a Place to Hide

Making something is inherently a violent act against things as they are.

It is why Steven Pressfield named his classic book “The War of Art.” Being uncomfortable in spaces of comfort and shipping is the difference between those who lead and those who don’t.

Tricky stuff, because when you are leading yourself into an area of uncomfortability, you pull all types of things to help you hide.

For example, I let my apartment get messy.

I could stay out late, drink too much, or over work myself. Then the excuses start to fly.

All it takes is two or three days of this behavior and my apartment is a complete mess. Now, instead of expending all my energy on my work, I have to ask “Should I put this away?” and get away from my momentum. It gets harder to ship.

My “comfortable self” knows that I’ll quit if it gets too hard.

Pay attention, and you’ll notice the uncomfortability.

And get over it.

Ask Yourself – What Do I Need to Do to Show up Everyday?

Consistency wins in the end

I think asking the question “How do I succeed?” isn’t the most important.

It’s valuable, don’t get me wrong. There are good results when we take the time to visualize and understand the difficulty of the “finish line.

It just isn’t the most important.

I think a more important question is “How do I show up every day?”

Making something is hard work. There will be days where you don’t want to engage. How will you respond?

It’s difficult to think about us “losing” and “failing,” however it is necessary if we want to make things consistently. If we don’t, we allow ourselves places to hide.

Time gets away from us all if we let it.

Don’t let yourself hide from possible failure, because it opens the door for real failure to show up.


The Finish Line

Shall I cross?

Once we get close to the finish line, another question awaits us.

In a calm place, like where you are most likely reading this, the answer is simple, “yes.”

However, when we are in the thick of things, closing out a project, we do all sorts of mental calculus to figure out if crossing the finish line is worth our time.

Some of the questions we ask ourselves include:

  • How will I look?
  • What is everyone going to think?
  • Who am I to do this?

The hardest part of a problem is often starting to solve it. After that, it is finishing. The curse of “being perfect” and “is it the best” can stop us in our tracks.

Our minds crave comfort and normalcy. The minute we decide to put something out into the world, we fly in the face of that. That comes with a cost, mentally. We have chosen to choose growth over stagnation.  Nothing is free.

The truth is, those questions above, and many others, don’t matter. Learning how to conquer them do.

Finish the current growth path and solidify those gains. If you don’t, you have the additional cost of regret, and that stings much more than the glare of the “peanut gallery(which includes your ego).”

Be Better

You can always be better

The best is a singular, “winner take all,” experience.

There aren’t multiple “best.”

Chances are, you won’t become the best. Sometimes, this gives us an excuse to hide.

“If I can’t win, I’ll take my ball and go home.”

There is always an opportunity to be better.

No matter where you are, skill-wise, better is available through showing up and pushing through “uncomfortability.

Everyone can do this, even the “best.”

So, be better.

Avoid Junk Talk, Get Your Time Back

“Junk talk” is real

“Junk talk” is the words that don’t matter that surround the words that do.

We lose the opportunity to say just the things that matter by making it a point to say the things that don’t.

Junk talk is the noise that surrounds our signal (our truth).

We bury our “signal” with “junk talk,” usually because “signal” is scary.

It is easy to feel better when someone rejects a signal mixed with noise because we can blame the “noise.”

It’s easy to add junk talk to our conversation, pitch, or resume because we have an excuse. We hide by saying too much.

We use excuses, so as a result, we live in “comfort.

Comfort is short-term safety. Comfort is a trap. It keeps us stagnant and as a result, we focus on the battle instead of the war.

Our time matters.

When we avoid the uncomfortability of losing based just on “signal,” we waste time.

Avoid junk talk and get your time back.

Your time better spent improving signal or changing it.

Stare at the Hiding Spot

Take a look, a deep look.

We’ve heard it is rude to stare.

However, sometimes we need to stare at the things that cause us to hide.

Staring gives us a perspective that glancing or looking doesn’t.  It gets uncomfortable because we notice imperfections.

That’s ok.

When it comes to reasons that we “hide” those imperfections tell us a lot about who we are.

So, stare.


Shut Down Those Energy Vents

Our energy’s sacred

Energy, along with time, is a principal actor that decides how we “show up.”

It is an incredibly hard thing to balance.

Our days and nights continually fill with distractions, some designed with energy draining in mind.

On the other hand, power is frightening to store. It feels good to release our energy into something. It allows us to point to that “something” to prove we are somebody.

In is in the spirit of this that we create “vents” for our energy to spill out. They show the world we are up to something and allow us not to deal with the fear of stockpiling energy.

These vents take many forms, from unnecessary side projects, to “communities” we join at work, and even to relationships we create and support.

Be bold.

Take time to recognize these vents, and shut them down when you can. The result resembles a ventilation system. Everyone one you close makes the rest of the system stronger.

No “new holes” make sure you dig your current holes deeper.