Category Archives: Wayne’s Picks

These are in my opinion the best of the crop here at waynekspear.com

Clean up your mess

Good messes vs. bad messes. ✎ By Wayne K. Spear

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Photo courtesy of udge, on Flickr

Messes can be figurative or literal.

You’ll find them in your thoughts, your relationships, your habits, your closets.

Messes can be emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual. Often they are more than one of this list.

My son cleaned his mess. When he was done, he was amazed at how big his room was, beneath all the chaos and clutter that had made it seem cloistered.

How do you feel when you walk into a mess? Your emotional state is related to your physical environment, whether or not you are consciously aware of it.

A cluttered mind can be creative. For years I had a desk that raised eyebrows. I have lived a messy life.

When I was single, my apartment was immaculate. There was a place for everything, and for everything a place. It was great.

Then we were two, and three, living in an apartment. I bought a house. There was much more space, and then much, much more material possessions.

I had a semi-finished basement that we turned over to my son. It was nothing but wall-to-wall toys. When he outgrew his Lego, it filled three large garbage bags and probably represented over a thousand dollars of spending. (We sold it for a hundred dollars.)

The point is that I have not lived a life of austerity and simplicity.

The mess of my son’s play was a creative, fun mess. Allowance should be made for messes.

I am learning the distinction between a good mess and a bad mess.

In his book, Double Your Income Doing What You Love, Raymond Aaron advises us to make a list of our messes.

Pick one each month and clean it up. Maybe it’s a relationship that has gone sour, or a problem you’ve allowed to fester because you don’t want to face it.

“Abundance is everywhere,” writes Aaron, “but you lock it out with every mess in your life.”

He’s right.

Some messes are fun and creative. Others are toxic. They clutter your mind and spirit, and they make you feel anxious and overwhelmed. They are a burden that prevents you from experiencing freedom.

Make a list of your messes.

Clean them up, and feel free.

This is the meaning of your life

When you die, the people who loved you unearth your significance. ✎ By Wayne K. Spear

There we all stood, looking at the man’s tattoo. We knew what it was, but no one could think of the word caduceus.

Everyone knows what a barber pole signifies, few know what it means.

No matter how long your life, it can be reduced to a sentence.

Joe is funny—he’s a man who will always help a friend: he has a big heart.

Significance and meaning.

The word fossil means something dug up. Many bones were dug up before their significance was known.

For centuries, astronomy was the reigning science. The word paleontology was invented in 1822, at a time when the significance of the earth sciences was finally understood.

Until the nineteenth century, we looked to the heavens for meaning. Then, geology taught us to look down.

We forget the dictionary meaning of things because that is not their significance. A barber pole signifies that “I can get a hair cut here”—a caduceus (because it is often confused with the Rod of Asclepius) that “I can get medicine and be well.”

While we live, we struggle with meaning. When we die, the people who loved us unearth our significance. They are the paleontologists of our lives. They are the experts.

Imagine what you want them to say, and live accordingly.

Don’t go it alone

It takes a village to rock. ✎ By Wayne K. Spear

This is a story about Mick and Keith.

Steve Jobs wasn’t interested in computer circuitry, and Steve Wozniak didn’t believe there was a market for the machines he was making in his computer club.

Elton John can write a decent melody. Bernie Taupin has written some of pop music’s best-known lyrics. The two met in 1967 through an audition that both failed. When they joined forces, they succeeded.

In the 1980s, Mick Jagger tried (unsuccessfully) to become a solo superstar. Keith Richards once said that, together, he and Ron Wood were the best guitarists. He added that he and Ron were average individually.

A rock band is a division of labor, a team, a small corporation, and an alchemy.

Many of the most successful rock bands have had four members. Many personality assessments are four-factor. You can plot many rock bands on a DiSC graph.

DiSC Graph

I’ve created several rock bands, and I’ve worked with many corporations. Whatever you’re doing, think of it as a team effort, because it is. The alchemy of personality and talent is not arbitrary or mysterious. It can be assessed and measured. I know this.

Even if you are a novelist, you need a good team behind you.

Who is supporting your success? Do you have mentors, collaborators, colleagues, partners, and role models?

The lesson of Mick, Steve, Elton, and Paul is that you can’t do it on your own.

Don’t go it alone.

Pie versus Sunshine

Be open, bold, & generous. ✎ By Wayne K. Spear

Imagine a company that sells sunshine.

You can’t, because there is no plausible reason to buy it.

If I have a pie, a certain number of people are going to get pie. I can cut it two or twenty ways. No matter how I slice it, every portion eaten is a share someone else is not going to get, ever.

Absorbing the rays doesn’t mean someone else will now be unable to enjoy sunlight. It is impossible to take in the sun the way we eat a pie. No matter how many people step into the sun, there is surplus sunlight.

The difference between pie and sunshine is not only a matter of supply. Both can be scarce. In the northern hemisphere, there is less sunshine during winter, so people pay for tanning salons.

You can slice a pie but not sunlight. One is divisible, the other indivisible.

If I love one person today and ten tomorrow, I do not diminish the supply of love. If I am kind to ten people, it doesn’t follow that I must be less kind to the eleventh person I meet because kindness has been consumed.

Love and kindness, like sunlight, are indivisible.

I went to a store in my city and ordered something I’ve been looking forward to having for some time, but they didn’t have any of it in stock.

The moment I walked into the store, the staff smiled and welcomed me. It felt good to be there. It was obvious to me when I left that the store managers had paid careful attention to every moment and detail of my experience.

Even though I didn’t get the slice of a pie that I wanted, I am going to go back because I got sunlight.

In your life and in your business, some things are divisible and some are indivisible.

Take stock of the abundance and indivisibility within your personal inventory: creativity, imagination, and will. Be open, be bold, and be generous. Give, without regard to getting in return. Count your pies and cast your sunlight to the waters, because you can and because it is a good idea.

Cultivate abundance, and you will have abundance.

You can afford to do this, and you can’t afford not to.

Simple, not simplistic

We need more simple people. ✎ By Wayne K. Spear

The best ideas are simple, never simplistic.

E=mc2 is simple. Einstein had other, earlier formulations, but none had the elegance of energy equals mass times the speed of light, squared.

Even a child can recite his simple formula. Few can comprehend its profundity. Einstein provided insight into the nature and relationships of matter, energy, light, and gravity.

If you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight. It’s simple. And yet there have been countless fad diets, promoting simplistic ideas like “don’t eat x.”

Simplistic ideas often resemble simple ones. Simple ideas summarize complex insights, while simplistic ideas remove them.

The only way to tell a simple idea from a simplistic one is to conduct a forensic audit, listening to the account an idea gives of itself.

The simple idea can not be superseded. It can explain even the simplistic competitor. The reverse is not the case.

Example: any fad diet that works involves eating less calories than you burn.

No one comes up with a simple idea until they have perceived, studied, and comprehended complexity.

Take something complex that you understand, and find a simple way to represent it: a mathematical formula, a picture, a phrase, a neologism.

Use your representation as a means to provide a fuller account.

Be simple, not simplistic, and serve the world.

What I’ve learned by looking at trees

Tree

HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED, as I did recently, what determines the seemingly random pattern of tree branches?

A case of “every which way,” it appears. One branch projects confidently toward the sky—another launches tentatively in one direction, suddenly adopting a new trajectory.

A life is the same.

I know this, because I can see my own life in these branches. That little ragged outgrowth that goes nowhere? That’s a girl I dated in high school. The long, straight branch which stops suddenly? An office job I once had. The fat branch with many small off-shoots? My writing career. The trunk? That represents my upbringing: the formative experiences which established my values, outlook, and dreams.

To this day, my trunk is nourishing the new branches which sprout in my life.

I noticed that there are a lot of dead-ends on a tree: but look at those branches, and you’ll see many outgrowths. Again, I think of the times I’ve come to the end of a path. Maybe it was a goal I didn’t reach, or a job I didn’t get.

When you’re standing at the end of a path you thought and hoped would go farther, you only see  losses and failures—the job you didn’t get, the money you won’t make, and the things you won’t be able to do and have because you won’t get that paycheque.

Looking back, you can see that those endings are in fact launching points, like new shoots from a branch. My first business, which I created in high school, was the result of having the doors to gainful employment shut in my face. Within a month, I had more business than I could manage. I made more money and was far happier than I would have been in a job, but I felt depressed and defeated all the same when my plan to be hired by someone else didn’t work out.

What I learned by looking at trees is that you can reverse engineer the process, applying it to your future. You can look forward as well as back. Today I see “dead-ends” and “failures” as intrinsic to the organic process of creating a path of your own.

A tree is the sum total of its experiments in reaching the light, and rarely (if ever) is this effort a straight line from vision to reality. We humans, however, seem to be addicted to the idea that life works (or at least should work) as follows:

Aspirations ———> A Well-Laid Plan ———> Goal Achieved!

I know this kind of thinking has often been applied by me. Many times, I’ve been disappointed and discouraged because I haven’t been able to draw, and then pursue, a straight line from Point A to Point B. Even when I’ve “known” life is more complicated than that, I’ve acted as if it weren’t.

The prime directive of a tree is to reach the life-giving light. All that apparently crazy, here-there-and-everywhere is in service of the tree’s need for sun. And that’s why I’ve changed my thinking, as well as my way of creating a path.

You see, the tree is on to something—and I think I know what it is.

I’m not talking about creating 10 new businesses or launching 50 new projects. I’m not suggesting you should run, willy-nilly, in every direction. That’s certainly not why I do. Instead, I focus on activating as many potential trajectories in my life as I can, by nourishing relationships in my life and business. Just as the prime directive of a tree is to reach the life-giving light, my prime directive is to nurture my community, every day.

The second thing I do is to introduce as much variety into my life as I can. I take long showers. I go for walks in the woods. I meet with, and talk to, as many interesting people as I can. When I really need to be productive, I get away from my desk.

Because here is the worst way I’ve found to be productive:

Sit at Computer ———> Work Eight Hours ———> Get Results

And yet that’s still how we see work, as a linear process.

The fact is that we are addicted to straight lines and old ways of doing things. I know how hard it is to let go. I’ve made painful adjustments. I used to believe in things like:

Go to School ———> Get An Education ———> Work Hard ———> Succeed

or

Get an Agent ———> Find a Publisher ———> Write Books ———> Make Money

or

Get Hired by a Newspaper ———> File Stories ———> Get Paid ———> Retire

None of these things have worked out as advertised. I’ve only been miserable and unfulfilled pursuing them. It took a painful adjustment, and months of study and effort, to let go of the old ways of thinking. And that was after years of emotional work, gradually getting to the place where I could admit that what I was doing wasn’t working—and would never work.

Going in a new direction is hard. You may have a decade invested in that branch of yours. It may be the favourite branch on your tree. Maybe it’s the only branch. You probably imagined it soaring one day above the canopy, into the full and glorious life-affirming sun of a new day. But what if it doesn’t?

If you build your life on the principle of abundance, each day nurturing a wide network of relationships, being open to many possibilities—sending out many branches—you’ll never have this problem. You’ll soon realize that your life is, like a tree, the sum total of its trajectories, explorations, and so-called “dead-ends.”

A tree, like a life, is nothing less than the sum of its experiments.

Uncle Al

Uncle Al

HE WAS, quite simply, one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever known.

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