building skyscrapers

This is not an original or breathtaking idea, but an inspiring one. One I hold close.

Look in the city sky. A tree of man’s creation sprouts. Grown from rubble and the din of an emerging city to the height of a snow-capped mountain. Its design is intricate, lacing numerous materials, laws of physics, and sweat equity. Its purpose, to some, is awe. It is a monolith to the prosperity of a nation- a testament to its bravery. Filling a city, it is a finger on a dozen-digit hand that holds safe the hope of millions.

We all have a skyscraper to build. A small seed in our hearts at a young age that is either nurtured or extinguished. You recognize this dream by your fear of failing it. Or you don’t know it and need a return to the grassy hills of wonder-years. Fear and blindness prevent us from manifesting our greatest ideas. We are coddled and bullied by our own psyche to stop the Work.

But building a skyscraper is a war. It’s constant struggling against the forces of nature. As gravity and winds threaten structural integrity, so self-doubt topples creation.

In the middle of the stormy wind, hold onto this:

The world needs your skyscraper

If you build it, they will come…

restart

Stop thinking of words like ‘restart’ negatively.

Many of us reach troughs or setbacks with the complete opposite mindset to what those who succeed have. Our culture has reinforced this shame in things like moving back in with your parents to save on rent or making a lateral career move to a company more aligned with your values.

Shame isn’t spent only in the big things. Failure in workout regiments, relationships, or spiritual disciplines tend to spiral us to compoundingly negative paradigms.

Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.

Alfred (Batman Begins)

Foster a paradigm that is resiliently compounding positives.

If we see every fall as a chance to rise stronger and smarter, we grow a rare mindset that is self-affirming and independent (two proven qualities that lead to great success in business and in life). Every tech mogul in Silicon Valley circa 1985 working twenty years later had this mindset to carry them through adversity.

Steve Jobs was abruptly thrust into the spotlight, battered out of the company he built, and brought back as a herald of a new revolution. In the 90’s, the public saw that, “Jobs does nothing in half measures and so seems to reap his rewards in abject failure and stunning successes.”

“Stunning successes” merit “abject failure” at times, and when we don’t enter “overcome mode” we can be torn apart, ripped, broken, and chewed up by our own thinking.

Life is hard. Trials come; failure happens.

It’s always our response that dictates what happens next.

true voice

How can we be certain that our voice is our own? Not the frequency we speak at or the timbre of our voice, but the way we craft sentences and use language.

As a writer, I have clear evidence of my most recent readings affecting my prose. It’s barely conscious in the moment. It doesn’t make for terrible writing. But it’s not my true voice.

Some spiritual and meditative gurus talk of finding our “true selves” through practices of self-reflection. One of the things that interferes with this discovery is the consumption of inputs created by anyone other than ourselves.

Without a true voice, we are more likely to be swayed by popular action or character. We find it easier to sound like the crowd and shape ourselves to what they say. A writer without his voice becomes a parrot of other works, endlessly regurgitating the same style, words or symmetries

“Eschew all diversion.” Seems a bit extreme- necessary at times maybe- but not long-term. This route suggests “dopamine fasts” to cut all connections to stimulating distractions, hence restoring our focus, clarity and ability to sit with ourselves.

The answer to finding our “true voice” lies in our passions. The things we love are the things we cannot be dishonest about. Find that and you’ve found your voice.

The Overstory

The Pulitzer prize-winning novel by Richard Powers has been described as “a fable”. Fable means truth. From the Latin, “that which is told”, and Webster, “a narrative intended to enforce a useful truth.”

A useful truth says we need to stop. Stop and consider. Stop and consider and protect.

Powers intertwines the lives of eight human’s in his narrative, telling their stories over a span of decades of connecting branches. This alone would be a triumph endowed, but in this homo sapien overstory there are swelling roots and towering trunks of a tale of arborescence supporting humanity’s grasp at life.

A literary sentinel stands to secure circulation of a message that has dire need of delivery and, more importantly, action. The reason for Powers’ message:

The world had 6 trillion trees, when people showed up. Half remain. Half again will disappear, in a hundred years.

The effects of the maltreatment of our planet do not have distant ramifications. We see collapse in our ecosystems now in Puerto Rico, California, the Arctics. You can’t be enraged for these crimes without seeing the damage and understanding the root sin in man’s actions.

Still.

The Overstory plants a seed that goes;

a seed that knows.

One that can bring us home,

and restore this world’s broken bone’s.

weekly keystone

Habit is a long-term game. We can be habitual till the weekend, maybe make it past that, but eventually, we forget why our habit exists in the first place.

In order to play a long-term game, we need long-term practices. Every week is a new chance to fail and forget or to act and progress.

Michael Hyatt has greatly popularized (among many other things) the idea of The Ideal Week, a weekly system to plan a perfect week physically, socially, vocationally, and recreationally.

Seeing the big picture can push you to live out your intentions for a week:

  • Remind yourself of quarterly goals and project’s progress.
  • Reread an inspirational piece that has galvanized action in the past.
  • Budget your time and money each week in accordance with your core values.

You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.

James Clear, Atomic Habits

I’ve begun rereading Steven Pressfield’s, The War of Art, at the beginning of each week in sections to remember the reason why I have taken on some of the challenges in my life. Reflection can incite advancement in ways that keeping our heads down on the grind never can.