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Dan Cumberland

Posts by: Dan Cumberland

Dan Cumberland is on a mission to push you into the places meaning, life, & work intersect. He is the author of The Meaning Manifesto. Read more about him here, and connect with him on facebook and twitter.

Let’s Stop Feeling Ashamed About Our Jobs! (Here’s How)

It’s inevitable, isn’t it? When you meet someone, the conversation always makes a stop by your work.

You feel it coming from the moment you first learn someone’s name: “So, what do you do?”

A lot of us really hate this questions.  How do you feel about it?  If you have any ounce of struggle with your job or dissonance between what you do and who you are, you likely don’t care for that question.

When we do work that is congruent with our identity and values, it’s easy and fun to talk about. But if it’s not something we believe in 100%, there can be awkward feelings of shame or embarrassment around it.

If you’ve ever had a job that you weren’t in love with, I have something to say to you:

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What Happens if You Accept Responsibility Even When You Don’t Have to?

- - Risk and Fear, Tools, Work

“Everyone leaves me!  It’s not my fault.”

I had a friend who was so committed to powerlessness and playing the victim that his life fell apart.  These words came in a desperate and defiant moment, as I was trying to help him see this.  His actions toward a few people in his life were damaging and hurtful, yet he was blind to the effects of his action.  All he could see was his own hurt and what others had done to him.

Eventually, his marriage and many of his friendships fell apart.  His response was the same, “This is always what happens to me!  Everyone leaves.”

It was a mess.

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Why Failure is Necessary

Suspenseful movies aren’t my first choice, but I enjoy a good one now and then.

I remember the first time I saw M. Night Shyamalan’s movie Signs, back in college. In the early 2000’s Shyamalan was a master of suspense. He knew how to use your fear against you. I have no idea what I’d think of the movie today, but I remember being on the edge of my seat. There were these Aliens in the movie that were attacking people. It was really scary!

Until you saw the creature. I remember thinking, “well… that thing is kind of silly looking” And the movie lost its edge.

Up until that point, the monsters were always off screen— leaving their horror up to your imagination.

This is a trick that all good suspense films utilize: if the scary thing is off screen, the viewer’s imagination will inflate and magnify it. When you actually see and experience the thing, it’s not that bad.

Most of the fear we deal with has to do with some version of failure. We have a worst case scenario in our mind and at its worst, our fear makes us feel as though it will happen.

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Why Confronting Your Fear Creates Your Best Work

I have a friend who was preparing for the Navy SEALS bootcamp. It’s the most extreme and intense bootcamp in the military that serves as a vetting tool, ensuring that only the toughest and strongest applicants become full fledged Navy SEALS. It’s a brutal.

Two of the main tools used to weed people out is water and cold. Teams of SEAL hopefuls spend long hours on the verge of hypothermia.

Not my idea of a good time.

One of the things he did to prepare was to only take cold showers in order to get used to the cold and wet. He would shiver in the shock of cold every day.

After weeks of this, I asked him if it’s gotten any easier. His answer, “no. It’s always hard.”

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What You Should Know About Fear

- - Podcast, Risk and Fear

I remember this moment like it was yesterday. Mid July. Sometime past midnight. Driving through Las Vegas in our 1982 Volvo. Though the Volvo is, by my standards, a really fantastic car, it was lacking one essential feature: functional air conditioning. And it was 115 degrees that night.

My wife, Stacia, and I were on our way from Chicago— where we both had lived for the previous 9 or 10 years— to Seattle. And it was a big move.

It felt… scary.

I’ve come to understand that fear has the ability to lead us to our deepest places of transformation. Fear can help us become the people we were meant to be.

Fear guides us.

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