Steering Pegasus

Everyone has the potential to do great things, and I’d venture half of us have the ambition to realize that potential. But few can manage the pull of ambition. Imagine ambition as a Pegasus, the flying horse from Greek mythology. We’ve attached a chariot to this mighty beast, set it on a path, and now […]

Exploring the Great Lake of Knowledge

Should we generalize or specialize? What if there was a sixth Great Lake? Beyond Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario, and Superior imagine you visited the Great Lake of Knowledge. You see waves going on for miles from your place on the beach, and you wonder what dwells along the shoreline or lurks beneath the surface. How […]

Concentration Muscles

If I wasn’t sweating, I wasn’t working hard. This perspective served me well in entry-level jobs that required physical exertion, like hauling plants around a humid greenhouse. But it didn’t age well. As my career shifted to knowledge work, this “work hard” mindset translated to long hours in the office churning out high volumes of […]

Crawl, Walk, Run

Remember being a baby? Of course not! But let’s pretend we remember how it felt to drag our little bodies across the floor for the first time. None of us knew we could do it, but we tried anyway, making our blubbery arms hold up our chests in what must have felt like a Herculean […]

Four Stages of Competence

I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. But I’m also not the dullest. I am merely as sharp or dull as the average tool in the shed. Over time, most of us regress to the mean for any measure. That said, our sharpness or dullness is not a fixed state. Like most forces in […]

Red Pill or Blue Pill

Near the beginning of The Matrix, the protagonist receives two pills. Either he can take the Blue Pill to expunge dangerous thoughts and retain his everyday life or take the Red Pill and learn an unsettling but life-changing truth. Many controversial ideas have stolen this Red Pill/Blue Pill concept, and I will shamelessly do the same! […]

Eudaimonia

Language constrains our range of expression. It isn’t easy to express a thought or a feeling with words when the language doesn’t have a matching concept. We resort to other forms of expression—paintings, dance, music, stories—to express the things we cannot name. That exploration is beautiful and results in art that can move us. But […]

Zone Two

I’ve been training for my first marathon for the last few months. I’ve never been much of a distance runner, so my running workouts were always short and exhausting—a few miles at a quick pace. But that’s not sustainable. To ascend to 9-, 12-, or 15-mile runs, I needed a steady (dare I say turtle’s) […]

Magical Buckets

Sometimes I think about that scene from Fight Club when Tyler Durden (played by Brad Pitt) holds a gas station attendant at gunpoint and asks him what dream he quit. The sobbing attendant confesses he wanted to be a veterinarian, but it was too hard. Durden allows him to live, and with the fear of death in […]

Secondhand Smoke

I’m always amazed by how quickly a clever framing can sway public opinion. In the US, smoking went from a commonplace activity to a near-villainous crime within a half-century, almost entirely through advertising. Compared to other vices—alcohol, gambling, porn—smoking rarely resulted in violence, financial loss, or broken relationships. But, more than any other vice, smoking […]

Reader vs. Listener

To improve at anything, we must learn. To learn, we must know how we process information. In Managing Oneself, Peter Drucker claims that most people process information as readers or listeners. Readers process information through their eyes, in silence and alone—with books, wikis, or email newsletters. Listeners process information through their ears—via lectures, conversations, or podcasts. While neither method […]

A Ritual of Retrospectives

New Year’s Resolutions are forward-looking—commitments we make (and likely don’t keep) with ourselves to create a future we’d like to inhabit. But if we don’t consider the past, we might set our sights on the wrong destination. Retrospectives are a means to reflect on past performance and garner lessons to apply in the future. One-off […]

Alligators & Kittens

A sad woman in Louisiana loves kittens, as their little meows fill her with joy. So, she adopts a dozen kittens and brings them to her house in the bayou, which is crawling with alligators. These slimy reptiles make her sad and stressed, so the kittens are a welcome relief. But after a few days, […]