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Knowing Your Story Archives - Page 3 of 6 - The Meaning Movement

Category "Knowing Your Story"

Degrees of Variation (a year in review)

In the beginning of September, a few friends put together a party for my wife and I. We gathered in a friend’s backyard with lots of great food, drink, and many of our favorite people. We called it a “baby party” because I had an aversion to the idea of a “baby shower” (though I’m sure it was similar in many ways). A few friends offered words of blessing and hope for us as we transitioned into parenthood.

One of those friends who shared had been through a very rough transition to parenthood. Her son was born prematurely and they spent the first few months of his life in the infant intensive care unit at the hospital. She talked about how we have hopes for what things will be like and that sometimes life offers variations between our hopes and the events that come.

And other times there are many degrees of variations between our hopes and reality.

Her words stuck with me because I knew her experience and I knew how she’d lived through many degrees of difference from the way she had hoped things would go.

Her words became even more poignant when less than one week later, with my wife 33 weeks pregnant, I was on the operating table as surgeons literally took my intestines out and put them back in (I still can’t even believe it).

This was very different from how I had hoped the weeks leading up to parenthood would go. There were many degrees of variation.

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Behind All Great Work is a Memory

Behind all great work is a memory:

  • A memory of a pain you’ve suffered.
  • A memory of a success you’ve had.
  • A memory of a kindness you’ve received.
  • A memory of a moment you wish you could repeat.
  • A memory of a joy you’ve experienced.
  • A memory of a love you’ve witnessed.
  • A memory of a hope you’ve known.
  • A memory of a suffering in need of alleviation.
  • A memory of an injustice you can’t shake.
  • A memory of words that stay with you.
  • A memory of thirst that’s gone quenched.
  • A memory of harm left unattended.
  • A memory of healing that you’ll never forget.
  • A memory of a freedom unlike any other.
  • A memory of a delight that still brings a smile.
  • A memory of relief that you didn’t realize you needed.
  • A memory of a presence who filled a hole.
  • A memory of a conversation that changed everything.
  • A memory of an object that brought comfort or change.
  • A memory of hospitality unlike any other.
  • A memory of being welcomed and affirmed.
  • A memory of feeling important and valued.
  • A memory of having someone in your corner.
  • A memory of being supported unconditionally.
  • A memory of having the right thing right when you needed it.
  • A memory of having more than enough.
  • A memory of being carried, even if only for a moment.
  • A memory of learning something new that changes everything.
  • A memory of teaching that new thing to someone else.
  • A memory of being thanked for something you didn’t realize mattered.
  • A memory of being caught up in a moment and losing track of time.
  • A memory of a feeling of spaciousness in life or even in your physical space.
  • A memory of a problem that was finally solved (FINALLY!).

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An Agile Approach to Life and Career Planning

You can’t plan your whole life out. It’s just not possible.

In his book Stumbling on Happiness, author Daniel Gilbert makes the point again and again that humans are consistently bad at predicting what will make us happy.

Isn’t that funny? We’re simply bad at anticipating in the present what we’ll want and what will make us happy in the future.

So even if you could plan out your entire life without any unexpected twists and turns, you’d have created a stagnant map to a moving target.

This is something I keep coming back to when it when it comes to career planning and your life’s work. For most people, your life’s work doesn’t change very much, but what will change is how you go about making that impact. You can say that your work is about helping people in a certain way, but you can’t necessarily be sure how you’ll go about doing that work 10 years from now.

Some of the difficulty in predicting and career planning is that at this moment you only know what’s possible at this very moment. Possibilities open and close in sets. What’s available and even imaginable to you right now is based on where you are and what you’ve been exposed to.

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The Psychological Necessity of Breaking the Rules

“We see you as an artist,” he said. His hair was long, thick, and wavy. His face thin and defined. His gaze intense and gentle.

Sixteen of us sat around a big solid wooden table, eating a meal together. We were all part of an Artist Residency at the graduate school I attended.

Somehow I ended up among them.

I didn’t think of myself as an artist. Though I studied music composition in undergrad, I always felt a bit like I was faking it— everyone else had a much greater mastery of their instruments and musical concepts.

I thought my main focus for the week of the Artist Residency was going to be writing music. It turns out it was something much deeper.

His words to me around that table were part of shift in how I thought of myself. It may seem small from the outside, but on the inside it was big. And risky.

I didn’t spend time around artists in my younger years. My family didn’t have a category for them. None of us were artists. In fact, I don’t know that I could find a single artist in my family tree.

We’d go to art events, but there was always a sense that those people weren’t our people. They were misunderstood and called “artsy-fartsy”.

Artists may make pretty things, but they didn’t seem to belong in our family.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid twenties that I began to embrace the fact that I really am a creative at heart, and that making is a big part of who I am.
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The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy — Why You Make Them and How to Stop

I was talking with a friend about his business the other day. He’s wanting to scale things up and make a little more income. I suggested he try something he hadn’t done before. It would be a bold move on his part, but it would be unlike anything else in his field.

He bristled and went on to tell me that he couldn’t do that and all the reasons he had for it.

I wasn’t going to push him further than he wanted to go (this was just a friendly conversation after all), but he left the conversation just as stuck as he was before.

I left feeling frustrated. If you ask me for my opinion and ideas, don’t blame me if they’re too hard or scary for you. (After all, if you want to go places that other people are not going, you may have to take a different path to get there.)

I was annoyed that there were options right there in front of him, but he wouldn’t take them.
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