1. Can we get this election over already? I've actually lost the ability to pay attention to the candidates or coverage for more than ten minutes at a time. The campaign has been akin to two eighteen-wheelers carrying combustible chemicals colliding into each other on a congested freeway. The long-blazing fire has been blowing dark smoke into our eyes and polluting our air, water, hearts and minds. Has anyone NOT made up their minds by now? Let's vote, push the wreckage to the curb, and move on with whatever's left of our lives and national dignity.
2. The older I get, the more I'm convinced that self-belief is the most important component of any success. With resilience a close and inter-related second. When we know WHO we are and WHY we are, when we understand the values and behaviors that are important to us as individuals and which make us unique/different/special etc., we are better off creatively, financially, spiritually, health-wise, and in every other way. Time invested in better understanding who you are, however corny/new age this may sound, is the most valuable investment you'll ever make.
3. I've been able to grow my self-belief by practicing patience. I try VERY hard not to make decisions too quickly. I find that I need time to reflect upon my values and how I want to move forward in life. Taking time allows me to align my values with any decision I need to make. Taking myself away from the short-term emotion involved in any choice/decision has been crucial for my growth over the last few years. I call this being proactive and preventive.
You are different from me -- and thank goodness you are. The decisions you make will be different from mine, but if you make those decisions with an understanding of your values and beliefs, we can both be right in making completely different choices. Find out what matters most to you, not just in terms of values but also in terms of people, working styles, attitudes and behaviors, and use that to guide your choices.
Find friends, family, mentors, and others who share you values and talk to them (constantly) about important decisions. But sit down with yourself first. Even changing your breakfast cereal from cheerios to corn flakes can show you that change is both possible and (sometimes) a good idea.
4. Life often seems like a series of trade-offs, but try to make good trade-offs that get you the things you need most. I say this as someone who was once deeply pessimistic and who is now becoming more optimistic with age. You can always be better, do better. I'm often reminded of a song written by a hero of mine, Bob Dylan, called "My Back Pages," where he sings "I was so much older then; I'm younger than that now." It's a beautiful and wise observation that connects deeply with me. While time might be linear, we can always choose to change who and what we are along the way -- it's up to us.
5. I don't know why, but I've wanted to work more at public libraries this week. Today is my third "library day" of the week, even though I rent a coworking space downtown. I'm writing this from a table at the Braintree, MA Public Library as a librarian is pushing a book cart up the aisle next to me. She's now shelving a biography of Verdi, carefully placing it next to an already-shelved bio of Dick Van Dyke. When I look down, Tolkien sits next to Tolstoy while Hunter S. Thompson is looking down at Harry S. Truman. All of this bibliographic conviviality makes me feel good.
6. Good questions make for great stories. I interview people all the time for my work, and I always find that people love to respond to a good question. Listening is the second best thing you can do. Most of the effort in conducting a good interview, whether with an author, a business leader, or anyone else, goes into the questions. After that, the interviewer's job is largely keeping the mouth closed and the ears open. The best advice I can offer to any would-be interviewer is to ask great questions and stay out of the way. One of my all-time pet peeves is an interviewer who thinks he or she is the story. I've been known to yell "stay out of the way!" to bad interviewers I hear on TV and radio -- alas, there are tons of bad interviewers.
7. Not sure if this "jazzy" format works, but it will have to do for today. Want to join in the improvisational, free-floating conversation, dear reader? You know what to do, start riffing below . . .