The blogosphere is abuzz with advice for the new year. We’re being given tricks and tips on getting ahead, becoming more efficient and so forth. But as a guy who helps people live better stories, I have to tell you the best advice I’ve ever heard is simple: Work on your character and a good life will come to you. Of course we have to define “good life” and we also have to acknowledge this is far from a “biblical law” that is destined for success. To be sure, nothing is for sure. But I like the idea and find it comforting. I like the idea that I can stop trying to control the people around me and just work on myself, just work on being a slightly better Don. Does it mean everything will be great? No, not really. Conflict is part of every good life. No meaningful story is void of conflict. But what it does mean is that in every context, I can always control what I can control, and that’s me. Just because there’s a storm on the ocean doesn’t mean there has to be a storm within me. Here are some interesting camera angles I’ve [...]
Last week I ran into a guy at an airport who said that when he and his wife created their Storyline it was the highest point of their marriage. I wasn’t surprised. Story is, after all, a sense-making device. Story helps us understand ourselves and others. It helps us realize where we’ve been and chart a path for where we’d like to go. A Storyline is a life-mapping tool consisting of several modules, modules that help you understand yourself as a character, chart the positive and negative turns in your life, anticipate and have a positive attitude about conflict and fuel your life with vision. Without story structure, our lives feel like they don’t make sense. But when you’ve created your storyline, you’re sitting in the theater of your mind, fully engaged in your own story. You’re wondering what’s going to happen next, because you know who the character is and where they’d like to go. Let me explain: What is Storyline? from Donald Miller on Vimeo. At the Storyline Conference, you’ll spend two days creating your Storyline, and being inspired to live a better story. If you’ve not registered, consider registering today.
I’m becoming a Joseph Campbell fan. Reflecting on myth, even the myths (some true stories, some arrows pointing to truth) I learned as a young Christian growing up in Texas have been the maps I’ve used to navigate my world. I do not believe the Bible is complete myth but I do believe it intentionally contains myth (Song of Songs, for almost certain, and perhaps other chunks). I believe Jesus was God and the Son of God, and I believe much of what is in the book has happened, in one way or another. I tend to believe Job could be myth, but I’d guess somebody like Job existed, whether or not Satan interacted with him or not (the bulk of the book is written in poetry, so the idea Job said what he said, exactly, simply can’t be true, unless he was a weird fruit nut who sat around talking in poetry) but as myth, it does help me reconcile my avoidant tendencies with the facts of reality. As a people, we don’t like reality. The majority of our energy is spent repressing rightful anger or drawing philosophical maps in our minds that give us way-points we can use [...]
John Wooden said “Your reputation is who people think you are, your character is who you really are.” So, what would it look like for us to have great character in 2012 and stop working on our reputation? Who really cares what people think? I learned this lesson several years ago. I ran into a person who worked endlessly on their reputation but had terrible character. When their character was revealed (which happens in intimacy) they were a complete let down. The truth is, they wouldn’t have been a let down at all if they would have been themselves. People don’t judge who we are, they judge who we’ve led them to believe we are.The more time and effort we put into making ourselves look great, the longer and harder the fall when the truth comes out. And eventually the truth comes out. What I took from that relationship was difficult, but it’s something we have to face in our early twenties, usually, and that’s there’s a difference between our reputation and our character. Since then, I’ve decided not to work very hard on my reputation. Or at least I hope that’s true. I air most of my dirty laundry, [...]
My favorite psychologist is Viktor Frankl and he offers a bit of advice that will be helpful for us as we start the new year. Perhaps it is more of a mental trick, but the idea is to imagine you are living your life for the second time around, asking yourself what you’d do differently this time. It takes a second to get your mind around the concept, but when you do you’ll find yourself approaching life with more discretion. For instance, if you think about your career, what would you do differently in 2012 if this were the second time around? Would you create deeper relationships with your coworkers and clients? Would you focus more on only a certain number of projects? What about your relationships? If you could do 2012 over again, would you spend more time with the people you truly love and who truly love you? Would you stop yourself from being spread so thin? Frankl’s tip is a handy way to help us understand what really matters in life. It gets us thinking about what’s ahead, has us living the entire year in our mind, anticipating our mistakes, and then invites us to live differently. [...]
Last night I stayed out till about 3am with some old friends. We shared the same stories we always share, stories about living in the woods, in the mountains of Oregon, about how we met in Colorado, about how we used to sleep on the lawn or meet each other outside one of our high schools, waiting for somebody to come tumbling out the window to skip for the day so we could go to the river. We all agreed those were some of the best days of our lives. And each of us has lived a life with no less risk, adventure or excitement. As the evening wore down, one of my friend said to me, “You know, Don, I think I just assumed back then that everybody was special, that everybody wanted to live an exceptional life, but it isn’t true. The older I get, the more I realize people don’t really know how to live well. There are not very many special people in the world.” I reluctantly agreed. I say reluctantly because in my line of work you meet and even seek out exceptional people. I’ve met tons of them, many of them having become my [...]
This isn’t one of my better little scratch-out blogs. But I’m okay with it. I’ve enjoyed coming to my desk every day and pulling out the little pad and playing Andy Rouney for a minute. I like this one, even though it’s hardly worth anybody else reading. I think I just needed to preach to myself for a second about who I am and how I live. I’d forgotten. Come the new year I’ll be blogging a bit more about hopes and dreams and starting over and all the usual fair for blogs in January. I love thinking about that stuff. For now, here’s some end-of-the-year rambling. Hope you’re holidays are going swimmingly!
So, according to researchers, if you want to be healthy you have to be in an environment where you are accepted and are free to have flaws. You also have to love yourself, have compassion for yourself and accept yourself. Why, because if we are going to be healthy, we must connect, and if we are going to connect, we must be vulnerable with each other. This TED Talk from Brene Brown is the best I’ve heard in a while. Are you somebody people can be vulnerable with? And do you struggle with vulnerability? You’ll enjoy this. I’ve made some notes under the clip. Peruse them as you watch and listen. Don STUFF I GOT FROM BRENE BROWN: • We are here to connect. It’s hardwired into our biology. It’s the driving force in the human personality. • Shame unravels connection. People who do not experience shame cannot experience connection. Shame is the enemy of connection. • In order for connection to happen, we must allow ourselves to be seen. We must overcome our shame. • A sense of worthiness is connected to a sense of love and belonging. • People who have a strong sense of love and belonging [...]