Look forward to your first critic

Look forward to your first criticIt’s much easier to gain a following than to start a movement.  People will pay attention to you as long as you are new or shiny.  Anything that tickles the eyes and ears can gain a following.  If you have a worthy message, a following might turn into a movement.  A movement begins when people start to buy in and act on the message.  Through my blog, I hope to start a movement of people who will pursue their dreams for the good of the world.  I would count anyone’s success that was encouraged in any way by my writing a win!

How do you know when you are actually leading a movement instead of just gathering a following?  One of the early milestones is your first critic.  No one will have anything to criticize until you start to make changes.  Lots of people are uncomfortable when you start to rock the boat.  You know you are changing things when other people take note and complain about it.

If you already have critics, check out Chris Guillebeau’s advice on how to deal with them.  Until then, keep working hard and watching for your first critic.  It’s a sign that you might be on to something.

Photo by: National Library NZ on The Commons.

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The Moral Compass

The Moral Compass

Continuing the series on The Worth of a Good Map.

The moral compass helps you to decide the value of whatever journey you start on.  Here are some things I brainstormed for dos and don’ts.  Use my thoughts as a starting point for your own.

Don’t do things motivated strictly by greed.  Don’t do things that are entirely self-centered.  Don’t do things that hurt other people.  Don’t do things about which people will say, “Today will go down in infamy…” Don’t do things motivated only by money.  Don’t judge the value of an idea only by how much money it can make.

Instead, do find ways to make life better for others.  Do think of the environmental impact your plans will have.  Do think of the human cost.  Do make your product or project the best it can possibly be.  Do something creative.  Do something people need to have or experience.  Do find ways to fight cancer, HIV/AIDs, and poverty.  Do something about which people will say, “I wish I’d thought of that!”

Great journeys are not measured by the income generated by them.  People motivated only by money are always sniffed out.  People who genuinely want to serve are usually celebrated.  No one loved the “Robber Barons” of the Industrial Revolution.  Everyone admires Mother Teresa.

A few questions that come to mind when I’m thinking about the value of an endeavor:

  1. Am I doing this out of primarily selfish motives or primarily to add value to other people’s lives?
  2. Is this going to have long-lasting negative human or environmental costs?
  3. Would I be proud to tell my grandmother about it?
  4. Does it line up with my spiritual and ethical values?

(Hopefully these thoughts will help as you draw the map for your journey.  Start planning to do something remarkable, but don’t stop at drawing the map!  Find some guides and get moving down the path.)

Photo by: Ricardo Rui.

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A few benefits of minimalism

A few benefits of minimalism

As my wife and I reduce our possessions, we have realized several benefits.  I mentioned in an earlier post that we are both working to cut our personal possessions to 100 things or less.  It’s our family’s version of the 100 thing challenge made famous by Dave Bruno.  One of the benefits we have enjoyed is more time for each other.  When we both arrive home from work, the last thing we want to do is clean up the house.  As we’ve reduced the clutter in our home, we have freed up time and space for each other.

Another benefit appeared unexpectedly a few weeks ago.  Some out-of-town friends called while we were out at dinner informing us that they were in town and would like to come for a visit.  We hadn’t seen them in almost a year so saying no was out of the question.  If you’re like me, you’re probably embarrassed to have people over when your house is a mess.  You especially don’t want to expose your mess when you don’t have any kids to blame it on.

Because we were in the process of minimizing our stuff beforehand, our house was free of clutter.  There was no stress to hurry and finish our dinner so we could rush home to clean house before guests arrived.  We took our time and arrived home just before our friends, excited to see them and not embarrassed of our home.  Since they work at a wilderness camp for kids, I was even able to give some of my unused camping gear for kids who would benefit from it.  It was an awesome, stress-free evening that we could enjoy thanks to minimizing our stuff.

I’ll post later on making room in the family budget for generous giving that we have been able to do since simplifying our lives.

Jump in and give minimalism a try!  The benefits are amazing and sometimes unexpected.  When you get the clutter out of your life, you create freedom and make room for meaningful relationships.

(Thanks for sticking around!  If you have seen any benefits to simplifying your life, share them with us in the comments.)

Photo by: Ben Heine.

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Do the things you fear

Do the things you fear

“Do the thing we fear, and the death of fear is certain.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

What big thing are you putting off right now because you don’t know if you can do it? The trick is to start.  Most things you want to do are possible if you just start working on them now.  The longer you allow your dreams to stagnate, the harder it will be to get them rolling.

Go forth and conquer your fears!

Photo by: Ndesh.

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The Bucket List

My quest for a Holy Grail is to live a life without regrets.  Imagine lying on your death-bed knowing you loved well, worked hard for meaningful purposes, mended all broken relationships, served others and generally met most of your life goals.  Being satisfied with the overall story instead of wishing for more time to right wrongs and do things you never got around to trying.  This is where the worth of a good map really starts to shine.

One of the main components of a good map is a bucket list.  If you haven’t already written one, a bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you die.  Of all the resources at your disposal, the only one that is truly not renewable is your time.  A bucket list helps you to budget your time so that you can do what is important instead of drowning in the urgent.  It gives you a ruler to measure how you spend your time.  Are you living your story or hiding out in the margins?

How do you write a bucket list?  I’ll give you a few things to think of, but remember that it is ultimately your list.  Some of the questions that I asked myself as I was working on my list are:

  • What are three places that I want to go?
  • What are three things that I want to be?
  • What are three things that I want to be able to do?
  • What are three things that I want to do?

Once you have a basic start on a bucket list, the ideas tend to flow more freely.  Nothing is too big for a bucket list.  Have you always wanted to start a medical aid mission in Africa?  Write it down.  Want to start an entrepreneurial venture?  Write it down.

In most cases you have always been the biggest limiting factor on what you are doing.  That’s uncomfortable but true.  By writing things down on your bucket list you are taking the first steps towards acting on your dreams instead of letting them fall off the pages of your story, crowded out by passivity and resistance.

If you need a little more help, here’s my working bucket list.  Copy me where my goals are interesting to you.

Brandon's Bucket List

(Thanks for reading!  Feel free to share your thoughts or suggestions in the comments.  Write your bucket list!  If you want to share it for a future article on remarkable goals email me at largethoughtcollider at gmail dot com.)

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What can I live without?

Try finding this question in any ad copy anywhere, “What can I live without?”  If you do, please email it to me and I’ll feature it in the blog.  As a trained consumer, it’s a question I would never ask.  As a budding minimalist, it’s a question I ask all the time.

As I walk through my house I consider getting rid of something else.  Can I live without that table?  What about that couch?  Do I need all of those books?  Could I sell a few of those DVDs?  At times I get a little crazy.  I could really live with almost nothing, but that isn’t the point of asking the question.

The point is to reduce the clutter of your life so that you can do the work of living.  Do you feel limited in what you can do because of how much you have to do before you can actually start your work?  Laundry needs doing, the house needs cleaning, countless emails need reading, and the house is dirty again.  You can add to this list forever and every single thing you add to the list is one more thing keeping you from your life.

Ask yourself, “What can I live without?”  Start the process of decluttering your home.  I know it seems daunting.  Most people I know try to ignore the problem so they can pretend it doesn’t exist.  That makes as much sense as ignoring cancer.  Both will steal your story from you if you let them.

Start small.  Dump your extra clothes so laundry can’t pile up into a three-day affair.  Get rid of the things that pile up on counter tops and desks.  Eat the elephant one bite at a time.  When you start answering the question, you’ll be amazed at how much you can happily live without.  As you make space for your story to unfold, you’ll be glad you did.

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Listen Up!

“I like to listen.  I have learned a great deal from listening carefully.  Most people never listen.”

– Ernest Hemingway

In conversation are you really listening or just waiting to talk?  When is the last time that someone really listened to you for about 20-30 minutes?  Can you even remember?  You know what it feels like when someone is just trying to say something in conversation.  You’ve probably cut off a conversation because it got so unbearably annoying.

Conversely, listening closely is one of the best ways to show that you genuinely care about a person.

Go be a daymaker today and listen intently.  Show someone that they are important to you by actually hearing their story.  You’ll be amazed at what you learn.

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