in Friends, Family, and Fun

Focus, believe, become, repeat.

Scott Berkun is a thoughtful and articulate person. I’ve enjoyed hearing him speak on the “myths of innovation,” and “getting useful design critiques.” I even met him last year at the airport waiting for my flight to SXSW. In just a couple minutes, he gave me excellent input for a panel I was preparing for about “the new work style.” One that stuck with me: All workers must produce something. And if they produce something, their location is irrelevant.

I’ve also been inspired by the way Scott has transformed himself from a UX designer at Microsoft to a best selling author and speaker. So, it was a no-brainer to pick up his book Mindfire: Big ideas for curious minds. Scott self-printed the book (well, I mean printed it via Amazon…). In a future post I hope to interview him on how he promoted it.

I’m about to turn 40, and Mindfire reinforces many of the insights I’ve had the past couple of years. On motivation and attention Scott writes:

Reclaiming attention starts with a leap of faith in believing the following sentence: you do not need more than what you have. When you survive that leap, which you will, it’s easy to convince yourself that you need less of the attention consuming things in your life than you currently have. You’ll soon find that every important ambition for your life is best served by treating your attention with the conservation it deserves. Instead of splitting your mind to keep busy, move your body to somewhere worthy of all the attention you have.

It drives me crazy to see Americans with every advantage not making the most of their lives. I believe many of us are self limited, or settle too soon. It is our responsibility to keep challenging ourselves, which by definition requires making ourselves uncomfortable regularly.

A funny thing about the human mind is it tends to believe what it wants to believe. We allow what we want to have happen distort our reasoning on how likely it is to happen, so we obsess about things that scare us, even if they are unlikely. We worry about snakes, or getting on airplanes, when the real threats to longevity are cheeseburgers, chocolate shakes and long hours lounging on the couch.

It is funny how we feel like we need to be consistent in our beliefs somehow. I have an old friend that always likes to remind me I was once a vegetarian (and use a PC instead of a Mac). Of course, it is good to stick to your morals. But if you can’t get good at assimilating new information, you’re screwed.

If you have kept the same beliefs and theories your entire life, then you haven’t been paying attention. To be wiser, smarter, and more experienced than you were a decade ago means you’ve changed. It’s good to think differently about life than you did before; it’s a sign future progress is possible.

Having aligned my attention and suspended disbelief, I’m also practicing being realistic in my commitments.

The phrase “I don’t have time for” should never be said. We all get the same amount of time every day. If you can’t do something, it’s not about the quantity of time. It’s really about how important the task is to you.

Paradoxically, I’ve found that prioritizing my time to follow my ambitions leads to more opportunities to live in the moment. Those moments are the most meaningful in life.

[In the western workplace,] success demands indifference to the wonders of the real, or the magic of the ridiculous… people living their passions, like street musicians, chefs, or craftsmen, are people who are not indifferent. They are fully present, and give us a chance to join them in the moment, but only if we stop to listen.

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  1. Upon reading your blog, i was struck with this line “prioritizing my time to follow my ambitions leads to more opportunities to live in the moment. Those moments are the most meaningful in life.” I am happy to know that a person like you have come this far and who is so proud. Keep it up and more power!