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Posts Tagged ‘courage to be imperfect’

I used to say: “Hope for the best, expect the worst.”. It was a coping mechanism that I don’t fully support anymore. It tells you to want something, be attached to the outcome, and if you don’t get what you want, force yourself not to be sad about it. I don’t see the truth in this anymore. I deal with things differently now.

I’ve been talking a lot about not attaching to outcomes. I think it’s good to want something, but not to be attached to the outcome. But I’ve also found it very hard not to be attached to an outcome. If you want something, it’s natural to think about what the outcome could be like. And just thinking about outcomes will gently and very easily nudge you into the direction of being attached to a certain outcome. So what to do?

I don’t know the answer to that question. Permitting yourself to make mistakes might be part of it. Accepting a different outcome than the ones you anticipated, in whichever way, is another. But then, is it really such a bad thing to hope for the best? (I really don’t like the negativity of the ‘expect the worst’ part anymore.)

Today a friend got me thinking about the difference between hope and faith. For some time now, I have felt like hope does not help me anymore, whereas faith has helped me and continues to help through my life. It has always been with me, and has only grown in the past couple of years. This friend asked me what I thought the difference was between the two things.

I thought for a while and the answer I came up with surprised me in its simplicity. They both voice an anticipating to a certain outcome, without attaching oneself to it. But with hope, the underlying sentiment is uncertainty. And with faith, it is certainty.

With certainty comes confidence. And with confidence comes positivity. And with positivity good things come your way. I feel like this might be part of a bigger question yet unasked. To be continued.

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This weekend I decided to do something a bit differently than I normally do, just to see what I would gain from it. I purposefully changed my perspective, to see what I would learn from it.

I’ve been a mentor for a couple of times at this event called Evolv now. At Evolv we teach people who are interested in being an entrepreneur about the Lean Startup Methodology. I won’t go into what that is – because that’s more a topic for my business blog – but I will tell you that this time, I really wanted to be a participant, and not a mentor.

Doing my work as a coach in part of this methodology, I had encountered a couple of interactions with clients that made me realize that I did not know enough about what you’re going through when you go through this process. And it was in my opinion that I needed this experience to be able to coach people better in the process. So it was decided. I was going to be a participant, and not a coach, at this edition of Evolv Weekend. To learn more about Lean Startup myself, and also to experience what it would be like in the role of participant.

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We have all these beautiful people surrounding us, yet we insist on solving things by ourselves and being alone.

There’s one word that’s been coming up lately. Trust. And I decided to dedicate not one, but three (yes, three!) blogposts to it. For the other ones, click on these links: Trust that my friends will (want to) help meTrust that my friends will want to spend time with me.

Trust that my friends will want to support me

I learned this when I read the following sentences in the book I’ve been staying away from for a long time (but am reading it now and am quite enjoying most parts of it); Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, where he says: “Needing” is openly reaching out and asking for support from a man in a trusting manner, one that assumes he will do his best. This empowers him. “Neediness”, however, is desperately needing support because you don’t trust you will get it. It pushes men away and makes them feel rejected and unappreciated.

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I am so spoiled.

Up until now, I’ve been in situations where I’ve always had a plan. I’ve been taught how to create a plan and how to follow through. And that’s what I’m good at. But lately, this safe haven of creating my own processes and world has not been enough. In this blog post, I’m exploring why and what to do about it.

So. To give you an idea of how I handle things that need action. Be it an idea, setting up my own business or planning a day out, this is what I think always happens:

1) Decide whether I want to do it
2) Make a plan
3) Follow the plan
4) Monitor the plan
5) If the plan is going in the right direction: good! If the plan is not going where I want it to: change or make a new plan and start at 1)
(I’m sure there are thousands of theories on this. This is just something from my own experience)

Lately, I’ve encountered certain situations where I went from 1 to 2 to 3, but at 4 and 5 I was at a loss. Monitoring a plan and know whether it’s going in the right direction requires some background knowledge and experience of the subject at hand. If it comes down to acquisition for my business, this background knowledge is close to zero for me.

What I also experienced is that this makes me feel restless, down, unsure or all the above. It creates chaos in my head. Not a good thing. So I started thinking about how I can do something about this.

There are two things I could do:
1) I could make a plan that will advance my understanding of how to do this and how to monitor this. This plan might encompass learning about acquisition and learning how to monitor it better. It might also entail making up my own strategies to see whether things are going in the right direction. Creativity together with knowledge can overcome anything! Fight this chaos and bring it down!
2) (and here it comes) I could teach myself how to be more comfortable in chaos. The thing here is, that I’m simply not used to not knowing what to do. I’m not used to not knowing for sure whether I’m doing ‘good things’ or going ‘the right way’. This not knowing is not something I can put into lists, structure or point at. It is scary, but at the same time I think there’s an important lesson to learn from it.

It is a fact that a human being can not know or learn EVERYTHING. If you have the feeling you’ve mastered something, this could either be true, or it could just be you, feeling like you’ve mastered it, while there’s in fact so much more to learn. If you realize there’s always another level to attain, your perspective changes and you realize how much you don’t know. There is always chaos around. Even if you don’t open your eyes to it.

Now, is that a bad thing? I think not. I will, however, make it unnecessarily difficult on myself if I do not learn how to deal with a situation in which I don’t exactly know what I’m doing (which, in my head, sometimes translates to chaos). Being comfortable in chaos, being able to progress despite uncertainties about the plan is something I’m willing to learn over time.

Note how I’m not saying you should not HAVE a plan. I think having a plan is good, because it provides you with something to hang on to. But. Clinging to a plan, however, is a very different story. So I think that both having a plan AND knowing how to detach yourself from the plan is the magic trick. Trying to control the chaos (by creating a plan) so you always have a next step to undertake, but at the same time knowing that you can’t control everything (by not clinging to having a plan). That’s how you keep being flexible. Once more, it’s all about letting go.

So my next question is: how do you do that? How do you learn to be comfortable in chaos?
As always, I have a plan :). I’m starting with fully experiencing the chaos. To teach myself how to be more comfortable in chaos. So hopefully, eventually, I can accept the chaos. I will fully acknowledge chaos when I’m experiencing it, with all the ever changing plans and struggles and uncertainty that comes with it, while being conscious this is what it is. Chaos. It will be hard work. But we will persevere!

Then, let’s see what happens.

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Yesterday I attended a talk about crowdsourcing. Interesting subject. Inspiring talk by @JWalphenaar.

What inspired me most was not how he kept being surprised about his own successes. It was the opposite. It was the full genuineness of his feelings when things weren’t going as planned. Still, he kept going. He didn’t give up. He had hardly a choice, with the whole of the Netherlands breathing down his back, but still.

He showed me that showing your failures is ok. It is ok to fail. And it is ok to tell other people about it. You learn from the processes you create for yourself. And by sharing both your successes and your failures to the world, you can teach everybody something.

Sharing failures is not the same as whining. Sharing failures is letting others know it’s ok to fail. Let’s all celebrate our successes AND our failures. Again, why do we keep pretending?

So. I’ll start.

In the process of naming my company I wanted to experiment a bit. On a fling, I decided to give it a go and ask people via twitter and Facebook to associate on things with us, while we were doing all the creative things in a room in Utrecht.

Unfortunately, it didn’t really work. There were a handful of friend reacting (thank you for that!), but timing was, of course, off, and they didn’t know what the process was about so for them it must have been confusing. It must be hard to tap into the energy of a creative session from a distance.
It could have been due to the lack of preparation (which consisted solely of: hey do you think we can do this?). It could have been that it just doesn’t work, being creative through Social Media. However, I’ve not given up. If ever I have a creative session and would be able to incorporate Social Media channels, I think I’ll give it a try, just to check whether it really doesn’t work.

What’s your latest failure? And what did you learn from it?

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I get it. I think I now understand why I’ve been having this same discussion lately with various people and why I have formed an opinion about it:

Them: “I don’t want people to see everything about me.”
Me: “Well, what you post on Facebook is up to you.”
Them: “Yes, but everyone is always sharing everything, and I think that can be quite dangerous.”
Me, thinking: Dangerous to what? To your career? To your reputation? To your life?
Me: “Well, I don’t have anything to hide, so I don’t really think there’s any danger in that.”
Them: “I just don’t want other people to see pictures or other things. That’s private.”
Me: “Yes, that’s your choice! And by all means, do this in your own way. I just think that many people are afraid of sharing things, without knowing why and without founded reasons. I think that sharing things can lead to new insights and find that valuable.”
Them: “I just don’t feel the need to tell everybody what I’m up to.”

And then I wonder. What is it that makes this other person not want to ride this freakin’ awesome rollercoaster ride of the new world where everything is shared and open? How come they don’t see how much greater the world can be using these tools? And why do I not share his/her opinion?

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I’m reading a novel called Life of Pi by Yann Martel (It’s very good, I recommend you read it). The situation now is as follows:

There’s a boy who just experienced a shipwreck. He is on a lifeboat right now in the middle of the ocean, and just made an inventory of all the stuff that is available on the lifeboat. Of course, he has limited rations and a limited supply of useful objects.

He’s now making a raft from a life buoy, 4 oars and some buoyant rope. In order to make this work, he cuts the buoyant rope in 4 segments.

This is where I stopped reading and started thinking.

Now pose yourself this question (as I asked myself). If you were in the exact same situation, and you only had 1 piece of buoyant rope, would you cut it into 4 pieces for the solution you had just come up with to survive? The boy in the book just did it. I know that I, for one, would have hesitated until the end of time, not quite sure what would be the best thing to do. Maybe somewhere in the near future, I would need a piece of buoyant rope that would be long and strong, and then I might regret having made the choice of cutting it into 4 pieces.
What would be more important, cutting it for the purpose I need now, or keeping it long and strong for a purpose not yet defined?

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