Five Principles of Civil Dialogue

Donald Miller

Back when I was hanging out at Reed College, I was pleased to be in an environment where truth mattered more than ego, or rather where people didn’t associate their identity with their ideas. What I mean is, finding truth was more important than being right. And because finding truth was more important than being right, students were able to learn.

At Reed, discussing a philosophical or even scientific idea around a conference table did not look like a debate. Rather, it looked like a group of students attempting to put together a jig-saw puzzle. If a piece didn’t happen to fit, that was par for the course. You simply set it aside and worked together to make progress.

What To Do With Pain

Donald Miller

The older I get, the more I appreciate pain. I’m not a masochist by any stretch because I don’t like pain any more than the average person. And yet I’ve come to appreciate it.

In years past, when I’d go through a hard time, I’d run from it. I’d try not to feel it or deal with it. But these days, I’ve learned the only way life can actually get better is if I face reality, face my mistakes and liabilities and somehow correct or at least acknowledge them.

The Problem With Black-And-White Thinking

Donald Miller

Generally speaking, you are either a Republican or Democrat, a Calvinist or Arminian, you either believe we are shaped by nature or nurture, you either like Neil Diamond or you don’t, and even as you read this, you either agree with the statements I just made or you disagree. We think Fox News is brainwashing or truth-telling, we are Democratic or Marxists, evolutionists or creationists. There is either right or wrong, good or bad, beautiful or profane, right?

Worrying Isn’t Doing For You What You Think It Is

Donald Miller

I had a pretty good revelation the other day and it was this:
Things almost always turn out fine.

It was a good time for me to have that revelation because I’d just sat down to write when I got a call reminding me about an appointment I’d completely forgotten. I’d have to rush out the door to make it, forfeiting my writing session. And I hate forfeiting my writing sessions.

On the subway, I had a bad attitude. I thought about how I was going to get behind on the book and how I resented having to keep this appointment. Then it hit me…

Why 80% Of The Work You Do Is A Waste Of Time

Donald Miller

It’s called The 80/20 Principle. The book was written by Richard Koch and the argument is this: 80 percent of the results you’re getting at work flow from just 20 percent of your efforts. And not only this, but 80 percent of your profit likely comes from 20 percent of your products.

Having Integrity Doesn’t Make You a Good Person

Donald Miller

I recently had a conversation with somebody in which I doubted what they were saying was true. I hate those conversations, but years ago I promised myself that if the person was a friend, or somebody I worked with, I wouldn’t just walk away. Instead, I decided to say something. I kept it light, but I said enough that I wouldn’t go to bed that night without some clarity. The response I received was a long, passionate monologue about how the person had never told a lie in their life. This person kept using the word integrity.

Do You Believe You’re Good at Relationships?

Donald Miller

I’ve had a couple friends speak into my life who changed it dramatically. Both of them told me something on the same theme: “Don, you are good at relationships.” At the time, I thought nothing could be further from the truth. I was going through a painful breakup in which I’d made enormous mistakes. I was terrible at relationships.

Today, though, I no longer believe this is true. And partly, I don’t believe it’s true because I had friends around me who refused to see me in black and white or good vs evil terms. They saw my…

My 6 Tips for Surviving Criticism

Donald Miller

If you share yourself with the world you’re going to be criticized. The world may seem like a nice, safe, warm place, but as soon as you put yourself out there’s a good chance you’ll be a target for criticism. If you’re not careful, you’ll start feeling like a character in The Lord of the Flies. So how do you survive it? How do you keep putting yourself out there?

Are You Playing the Victim to Manipulate Others?

Donald Miller

To some degree, every one of us has been a victim.

We were either neglected by our parents, picked on at school or ripped off in a business deal later in life. When we are healthy, we can learn from those experiences, forgive and move on. But when we’re not, we tend to re-victimize ourselves over and over.

Your Growth May Threaten Others, Grow Anyway

Donald Miller

Every story is about one thing, the arc of the character. What I mean by that is unless the hero changes, you’ve got no story. They have to be cowardly at the beginning and brave at the end, or selfish at the beginning and altruistic at the end. Something in the character has to change or the audience loses interest.

The Single Most Powerful Question You Can Ask

Donald Miller

When novelists sit down to write a narrative, there is a question they ask themselves in order to create exciting and meaningful stories, and that same question can also create a more exciting and meaningful life. That question is: “What if?”

J.R.R. Tolkien once asked the question “What if” there existed a place called Middle Earth, and “What if” Middle Earth were under threat? Every good story begins with some form of this question, and so does every life.