Ending a Particular Nightmare: Managing the Particles

Getting Things DoneIf you are having the nightmare where you get to class and discover there is an exam that you forgot and did not prepare for and you are way past school age, then you need to learn to manage the particles. At the World Domination Summit, Jon Acuff recommended David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done. I jotted it down in my notes and downloaded it later in Kindle. At one point in my life I had that nightmare on a recurring basis with a twist: I forgot that I was enrolled in the class and had not attended most of the semester.

I no longer have this dream because I have created systems that help me manage the particles. In the CTI Co-Active Leadership Program they challenged us to not put too much energy into managing the particles. Our trainers were concerned that we would substitute a focus on details for leadership that sees the big picture. You can carefully care for your calendar and never drop a ball, but without a clear leadership stake and a strategy for accomplishing it, and then the details are just particles. They admonished us to do more than manage the particles.

However, if you do not have a way to manage the particles they will undo your leadership. As Allen says:

“Managing commitments will requires the implementation of some basic activities and behaviors:

  • First of all, if it’s on your mind, your mind isn’t clear. Anything you consider unfinished in any way must be captured in a trusted system outside your mind, or what I call a collection tool, that you know you’ll come back to regularly and sort through.
  • Second, you must clarify exactly what your commitment is and decide what you have to do, if anything, to make progress toward fulfilling it.
  • Third, one you’ve decided on all the actions you need to take, you must keep reminders of them organized in a system you review regularly.

You must use your mind to get things off your mind.”

Getting Things Done, page 14

If this resonates and you could use a system for tracking your “open loops” and identifying your priorities, then read Getting Things Done. If you have figured out a system that works for you, then carry on and give this book a pass.

Getting Started on the Journey: World Domination Summit Part 2

The second day of #WDS2015 opened with the photographer Jeremy Cowart’s multimedia presentation. He explained his journey from an average student who frequently told his parents, “I can’t.” His dad’s refrain was the bible verse “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Jeremy discovered he could draw and focused on design in University. He was an early expert user of Apple computers and design software. He got a job with an ad agency and enjoyed the money but did not find creating ads for air conditioning units particularly inspiring. This ultimately led to starting his own ad firm and then becoming a digital photographer.

Dr. Lissa Rankin explains Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey.
Dr. Lissa Rankin explains Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.

His success as a photographer has allowed him to do special projects such as his project chronically the aftermath of Haiti or creating portraits of Rwanda survivors who have forgiven each other. When his older brother died unexpectedly before age 40 Jeremy realized that none of us know the length of our lives and he was determined to share everything he knows about photography with his children. He created SeeUniversity.com hosting 120 different video lessons to pass on all of his photography expertise.

Dr. Lissa Rankin presented her story of how she discovered her life purpose or calling. She quoted Martha Beck from her book, Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, about those people who are members of the team who feel an special call to make the world a better place. She left her traditional and soul sucking ob gyn practice to create the Whole Health Medicine Institute. She has written one book, The Fear Cure, about how to overcome fear to accomplish our goals. We make fearful assumptions, such as uncertainty is unsafe; I can’t handle losing what I cherish; It’s a dangerous world; I am all alone. By changing our perspective we realize that uncertainty is a gateway to possibility; Loss is a gateway; We live in a purposeful universe; We are all one.

In between speakers WDS alumni spoke about some of their projects. Tess Vigeland, former NPR radio host, announced her forth coming book, LeaP. Another alumnae shared a new college forming to help young men and women figure out their life purpose and then go on to University or other training at Wayfinding Academy. Another gave all attendees a $150 gift certificate to classes on CreativeLive.com.

After the afternoon break we enjoyed two final speakers. They were tasked with offering practical advice on how to get started with our own journey. I especially appreciated Asha Dornfest. Her gentle humor and down to earth approach was helpful. As she said, sometimes we can hear all of these great speakers and beat ourselves up for not having a more epic life. Her presentation was called, “How to be a Grown-Up.” She shared some basic myths and truths about being an adult. Myth 1: grown-ups stick to the plan. Truth: Embrace course corrections because variables always change. Myth 2: Baby steps are for babies. Truth: small consistent steps are the surest way of reaching your goal. If you meet resistance, then go smaller. Start small and keep going. Myth 3: Grown-ups are sure of themselves. Truth: Self-confidence grows every time you keep a promise to yourself.

The final speaker Derek Sivers gave us an excellent example of how this is practically applied. He created CDBaby.Com as a hobby and created one of the first on-line music stores. He eventually sold it for $22 million, then gave his money away to support music education. He challenged us to know what we want: money, prestige, fame, legacy or freedom. Then focus and optimize for that value. Do not get distracted by your business plan. No one knows the future and your business plan is fiction. Commit to a problem you want to solve and do not get attached because no plan survives first contact with the customer. Ask instead of answer; learn instead of preach. Derek shared many stories of how CDBaby set themselves apart by simple things like answering the phone by the second ring or paying musicians weekly.

Closing questions: What have you been afraid to try? What steps will you take to get started?

Finding my Voice at World Domination Summit 2015

Outside the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

Jon Acuff, author of several books including Do Over, anchored #WDS2015. He called us forth to rediscover our voice. He invited us to get back in touch with our 3rd grade self and ask if our 3rd grade self would be happy or full of regrets if we met him/her today. I thought back to my long drive to Arcata on Wednesday when I reconnected with an idea for a fictional story I want to write. My third grade self would say “work less and write more.” He went on to give us some inspiration and some tools (including a worksheet on DoSummer2015.com).

We were all abuzz about Kid President. Robby Novak, aka Kid President, and his uncle and producer Brad Montague taught us some dance moves. Then Brad explained how Kid President evolved into the phenomenon it is today. On the one hand Robby and Brad’s messages are simple: 1) Be nice or treat everyone like it’s their birthday; 2) You matter; your voice matters; 3) Sharing is good; 4) Invite everyone to the party; 5) Enjoy it. My favorite quote, and one that relates to the previous post on failure, “There’s always a reason to complain and always a reason to dance. Choose to dance.”

I discovered Chris Guillebeau’s blog and book Happiness of Pursuit last year. Through his website I discovered the World Domination Summit.The WDS asks participants “How will you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?” Intrigued, I tried to buy tickets last year and learned how quickly it sells out. So this year I signed up for alerts and set my calendar, then I bought tickets for me, Sarah and Marcos as soon as they were available. That was months ago, and I had to reconnect with my motivation. The speakers have made it easy.

I was especially inspired by Lewis Howes‘ moving presentation calling us to be super humans instead of super heroes. I added his podcast School of Greatness on Stitcher. There is another day of speakers and a few more world records to break.