James: I have been thinking some about how it is so easy to get to believing that I am way above average with one or two things and then coming to the conclusion that I am way above average in most areas of my life. It’s like my grandpa used to tell me. It’s pretty easy to get full of myself.
I see that sometimes with famous athletes or others who have made it into the spotlight because of some exceptional accomplishment. They seem to think they are above it all and act like they are smarter and more clever than the rest of us. Their success definitely has gone to their heads. Unfortunately this superiority complex is not limited to people who really have done something exceptional. I sometimes see it with people around me who haven’t done anything actually all that exceptional.
That gets me to wondering how I can keep my perspective. I am pretty good at some things and not so good at others but definitely have no claim to superiority. I am hoping we can use this idea generator session to see how we manage this tendency to get full of ourselves. Maybe it’s something I worry about and it’s not a problem for the rest of you. I am definitely interested in what you think about it and how you would suggest I keep my perspective on myself.
Lee: If I may be permitted to share a thought, let me paraphrase Jim Rohn. The challenge is to be strong but not rude; be kind but not weak; be bold but not bully; be thoughtful but not lazy; be humble but not timid; be proud but not arrogant; have humor but without folly.
I see you as a grounded, down-to-earth person. Many people who are as talented and successful as you become arrogant and develop an “above it all” attitude and demeanor. They highly value their superior talent or intellect and let others know about it in subtle and not so subtle ways. People like you who come across as just regular folks are normally more intuitive than those who don’t. They may be obviously very bright or talented as you are, but are comfortable with their gifts and don’t give the impression that they think that makes them better or more important than other people. You are also rather self-contained and don’t splash your emotions, attitudes, or opinions on everyone around you. You live within your personal space. From my perspective you are managing the balance pretty well.
Ava: Let me add a thought about that from David Seabury. “A wise unselfishness is not a surrender of yourself to the wishes of anyone, but only to the best discoverable course of action.”
I think you normally look beyond simple self-interest. This does not mean that you never proceed purely based on self-interest because you occasionally do. Rather it means that you scan the “interest field” before proceeding. This is usually fairly instantaneous and automatic but most always precedes action. You normally know whose interests are affected by your action and the nature of the effect. That insight then becomes an important element in your action equation giving you a concurrent short and long term perspective thus reducing the likelihood of negative eventualities following your action. Your actions seldom come back to bite you.
Tess: That prompts me to quote the bard himself. “See first that the design is wise and just; that ascertained pursue it resolutely.”
Perhaps quoting Shakespeare is a little over the top but as I see it you don’t use yourself as the standard for how others should think and feel or how others should act. You do develop complex criteria that apply to specific situations and circumstances and you generally conform to those criteria. Here is the key. You conform to the criteria but whether others choose to use those criteria is their choice. If you think their conforming is in their interest, you are clear about that. Still the choice is theirs. I like it that you say what you think but don’t act as if you have the corner on good ideas or best ways of thinking about things.
Ivy: I don’t think I am getting all of this but you get a thumbs up from me too. I know some kids who are pretty full of them selves and I am not much impressed. They think they are better or more important than the rest of us and go around letting everyone know. Uncle Mike told me that they are probably just putting on airs and are not really that way all the time. I am not sure I understand what he meant but I get tired of it whatever it is. I think it’s a lot like bullying. It’s sure no fun for me.
James: I didn’t expect our conversation to focus so much on me but appreciate your kind words and positive thoughts. Thank you for sharing.
If there is a conclusion in what you have said I suspect it has something to do with self awareness. It’s like someone important once pointed out. It really is a great gift to sometimes see ourselves as others see us.
I think if we want to make a difference to those who make a difference to us and I know we all do we need to be sure we are actually more interested in making a difference than in just making an impression. Our focus has to be on what matters to the other person and not so much on what matters to us. Our goal should not be adding to our halo but rather adding to theirs. We might commit to ending each day by thinking less about how successful we have been and more about how much we have contributed to the success of people who matter to us. I’m not sure who said it first but it’s true that if what we do and who we are speaks for itself there is nothing more for us to say and if it doesn’t it doesn’t matter what we say or how much we act like other people should be impressed. Thanks for the chance to get together for this idea generator session. It’s always good to hear your perspectives on how to matter.
S1: Thanks for joining us for our idea generator session. Who is ready to get us started?
S2: I have a thought that may be worth considering especially when nothing seems to make much sense or conform to reason. This is for those times when life really is a buzzing blooming confusion. It’s for those times when logic and reason absolutely and unequivocally fail us.
Do you think much about logic? There are probably folks who do but I suspect they constitute a very small minority. Even for the logic obsessed few, they probably limit their syllogism consumption to only a few a day for fear of overdosing. They fully appreciate Rabindranath Tagore’s warning, “A mind all logic is like a knife all blade.” No, I don’t think Tagore’s point for the knife all blade had anything to do with being sharp through and through, as appealing as that may be. I suspect he was more aligning with the “mind all logic” is not a great thing camp. We need a handle, a place to grab and hold. – Save that thought. We’ll need it in a bit.
Along with logic being something we can overdo, it is also something we can pursue too far. According to Samuel Butler, “If you follow reason far enough it always leads to conclusions that are contrary to reason.” I think his point may have better been made by suggesting pursuing logic too far can lead to the counter-intuitive; but I am quoting Samuel Butler here and who am I to nit pick? Logical thinking, unlike most regular thinking, is highly linear. It proceeds according to its own rules, well, its own logic. Sure, logicians would tell us to go back and examine our premises if we trust our reasoning and still doubt the validity of our conclusions; but Butler had a point. We really can over-think things at times. We sometimes do well to just go with the flow. Another thought to hold onto for a bit.
Most of us also tend to behave as if all questions have answers, all problems have solutions, and we can always figure things out if we are clever enough, smart enough, and persistent enough. The idea is anything less than full success reflects badly on us and means we just aren’t up to it. It’s sort of like when Oscar Levant observed, “She has the answer to everything and the solution to nothing.” Not having a solution has to be someone’s fault or we often behave as if that were true. Let’s accept as our premise, it isn’t necessarily that way. Sometimes logic and reason, brain power and being sharp, as desirable as they are, just don’t cut it. Things are as they are; what happens is what happens; and what will be really is what will be. A certain amount of chaos is merely a part of life and living.
I think we have established our premise. We need a handle to hold onto as we go with the flow through the chaos of our lives. Anything else is illogical, nay unreasonable.
Always pause to think things through.
That’s the logical thing to do.
But when logic fails and you just don’t know,
Hang on and go with the flow.
S1: I certainly can’t disagree with that. I think we’ve all been there and didn’t like it much. It can be pretty unsettling but just going with the flow sometimes is our only reasonable choice. Everything else runs too much of a chance of making things worse. That assumes we have any other ideas or obvious choices. You are right about life having its times of uncomfortable chaos.
Who wants to go next?
S3: I think I might take a turn with a somewhat opposing notion, if I may. It is sure true that life is sometimes chaotic and there isn’t a clear path to success but we need to be careful not to use that truth as an excuse for inaction.
Even if I have been putting off participating, at least I discovered “cunctation.” That is definitely not one of my walking around words. I ran across it in the dictionary. I will leave it to you to discover what it means if you don’t already know. But you’re right. Checking the dictionary was just one more thing to do instead of getting around to coming up with a good addition to our discussion. Yep, I was shilly-shallying which combined with procrastinating suggests possible, nay likely dilatoriness, along with way too much time perusing the dictionary.
As you may or may not know, my muse abandoned me a while ago and I am on a quest to get her back. She is nowhere to be found today. If you have time to recall some of our previous idea generator sessions, perhaps you will conclude with me she has popped in from time to time but has just not returned on a permanent basis.
I am pretty well convinced she will only pop back in if I get past telling myself it is nothing but a temporary case of writer’s block. My message to me goes like this, “Don’t worry about it. You’re just experiencing writer’s block. Keep busy and don’t obsess over it. If you relax and go with the flow (whatever that means) your muse will return and then you will find writing easy and nearly automatic.”
Talk about excuses! How do you rate that one? I put it right up there with notions like “Everything will work out if only you have faith and are patient.” Faith is more than important; it is essential. A large measure of patience is right up there on the must have scale as well. Even so, it takes a very large dose of hard work along with perseverance and a few other associated personal traits before its time to talk about things working out.
It may be time to bring out a couple of those old saws we grew up on but now seem too trite to mention. For example, “It is more than happenstance do comes before done in the dictionary;” or “Someday is not a day of the week.” I could also give a nod to George Claude Lorimer who said, “Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible.”
There are a hundred excuses for not getting started,
And a hundred and one for not getting done.
When listing the reasons motivation departed,
Put TRIFLING alone in row number one.
S1: Well, that does tend to put things into perspective. There are those times when the chaos of life makes just going with the flow our best choice but we do need to carefully consider whether this is actually one of those times or perhaps we are merely using that truth as today’s best excuse for not buckling down and doing what we know needs done.
This is a podcast that needs to be heard to be fully appreciated. The words alone are not enough.
We are joining the How To Matter podcast team during one of their idea generator sessions. It sounds like things are picking up as Tom and Jill get the discussion started.
Tom: How are you going to kick off the discussion?
Jill: I thought we would just go with our usual way of generating ideas. Earlier today Mike mentioned that he had something to share so Mike, go ahead and get us started if you are ready.
Mike: Sure, I have a little verse that I like and I think our listeners will enjoy it too. Here it is.
A glimpse of a scene from way back when, yea those many years ago.
Grandma has a water pump. Needs primed to make it go.
The old pump stands a little ways outside the kitchen door.
The secret is to prime and pump, to make the water pour.
A tin of water into the pump. Bucket setting carefully in place.
Grab the handle and rapidly pump. With gravity it’s always a race.
The water reluctantly starts its ascent, from far down deep in the ground.
The familiar gush as it exits the pump is always a happy sound.
The scene switches now to Granny’s house. A mere half mile away.
Only use your quiet voice. Not a place to run and play.
Granny forgets which child you are. “Do you belong to John or Jack?”
Vanilla ice cream magically appears. Chocolate cookies from a sack.
Stay at least twenty minutes. It’s surely the polite thing to do.
“You’re leaving so soon? Been a real nice visit with you.”
A slight hug at the door. “Thanks for the treat.”
Other places to go. Hurry on down the street.
The story inexorably unfolds. It Shifts from place to place.
Leisurely or frenetic. The trick is keeping pace.
No convenient second chance. Scenes play but a single time.
Opportunity comes and goes at the pump you neglect to prime.
Jill: That is certainly true. It is all too easy to neglect the people and things that matter to us. We think we will see them tomorrow but we overlook the truth that today comes and goes and we won’t get a chance to go back and do what we should have already done.
Tom: Didn’t you notice that?
Jill: I thought Mike did a good job. Is that what you are talking about?
Tom: No, I was referring to … well if you didn’t notice anything unusual maybe I just imagined it. I think Tess wants to go next.
Jill: Sure, what do you have for us Tess?
Tess: I agree with Mike. I think our listeners will value thinking about his little lesson. I do have something for our listeners as well.
I have been thinking about motivation and what motivates us. I came across this from Homer Smith. His idea is that we can motivate by fear. And we can motivate by reward. It is the old carrot and stick idea. But those approaches are temporary. The only truly lasting motivation is self motivation.
We say we are concerned about the motivations and individual interests of other people. Even so we may sometimes come across as being indifferent to the people side of events and circumstances. Let’s hope this is merely apparent but not real. We understand that motivations and interests are always relevant and that not giving them our serious and complete consideration represents partial understanding and is a sure way to incomplete and inadequate analysis and action. People always matter. Not accepting that reality is foolish; and we are rarely foolish. At least we can hope we are rarely foolish.
Tom: There it is again. You did notice it that time didn’t you?
Jill: I am not sure what you are referring to. I noticed that Tess makes a really good point.
Tom: It sounds sort of … well ok let’s move on.
Jill: Hey justin, do you want to share something with us?
Justin: Not this time. I have an audio clip I have been working on but it is not quite ready.
Jill: I guess that takes care of us for this session. Let’s get together again in a week to see what we have developed in the mean while.
Are you still thinking that there is something unusual happening?
Tom: I did think that but am not sure. Whatever it was everything sounds quite normal now. It must have just been my imagination playing tricks on me. It never stops amazing me to notice what I think is real or even important at times.
The How To Matter Podcast team is back with more tips for making a difference to people who make a difference to you. As is their ongoing theme, to matter makes a difference and making a difference matters. In this episode the team has two segments. The first talks about angels and the second reminds us that anger is seldom a productive approach with people who matter to us. Please listen and consider what the team has to share.
Please join me as I take a break to relax with a warm fire in the fireplace, a cold drink, and time to let my mind and memory wonder. I recall the days when things were simple and the world was magical. It was a wonder filled time of the year.
WOW! A tree in the house, excitement everywhere, and Santa is coming. Yes indeed, the jolly old elf himself. Christmas is indeed a magical time of year. But when did we start to doubt, begin to loose the faith? For most of us, it was about the time we got to kindergarten. A question here, an overheard comment there and our confidence began to crack. Even then, we might still believe were it not for the playground expert on everything. Know-it-all types always show up when we least need them. Perhaps you have noticed that yourself. Few of us remember exactly when the crack in our faith became an empty place in our childhood where elves and reindeer used to play. Halloween’s ghosts and goblins, imaginary friends, and The Easter Bunny were there too. The Tooth Fairy came in the night with nickels and, if we were very good, maybe a shiny quarter. We remember, like to recall the magic, if only for a little while.
DENNIS THE MENACE found the answer. A while back, Dennis and his Friend Joey, were in line waiting to talk to Santa. Dennis said, ‘It’s not so important that you believe in Santa Claus Joey, as long as he believes in you!’ I wish I had thought to say that to the expert on the playground of my childhood. Her name was Sandra; and I learned what she had found out about Santa Claus the same winter morning I learned what happens to little boys who hit little girls. Neither lesson felt much like good news nor anything else I personally wanted to know. Please indulge me. ‘Hey Sandra, so what! The important thing is whether Santa Claus believes in you. That’s almost the same thing my mother told me when I told her what you said. That also was when she told me that, no matter what you said, little boys really shouldn’t hit little girls. ‘
Does Santa Claus believe in you? Maybe yes, maybe no. It depends on the spirit in which you give your gifts.
Here is how you can tell for sure.
Pretty packages and pleasant words are quite nice. Most anyone would enjoy being on the receiving side of your generosity. But Santa looks for the spirit that comes with your gifts. It’s what counts the most. You have been told that before and it’s still the truth.
Does a gift from you come with these special added values?
Your affection and acceptance of the person getting your gift.
Your promise to be considerate of the person’s feelings and needs.
Your willingness to give of yourself in ways that are gentle and helpful.
Your pledge of honesty and loyalty.
Santa will be pleased.
Not every present you give needs these added values. Sometimes you give someone a present and they give you one. It’s the social thing to do. But your family and special friends deserve more.
When your gifts to them come with these added values, they know for sure that Santa believes in them; But here is the real treat.
If you add these values to the gifts you give, Santa will for sure believe in you.
So there it is. Does Santa believe in you? I sure hope so. For that is why the day deserves a hardy, Ho! Ho! Ho! and it sincerely comes with the very best wishes for a most happy and successful new year, for you, and for all of those who make a difference to you.
Justin has an emergency post for us. He is asking for your help. He needs to find that naughty or nice list and just has to get access to it. Please listen to his appeal. The transcript is below.
This is the time of year when us kids are told to be sure we are on our best behavior. The expectation is that we behave ourselves all day every day and if we don’t, we will miss out on all the holiday goodies. There is a list that is being checked twice just to make sure we are complying with this ridiculous rule. We are being classified as either naughty or nice. It’s one or the other with no wiggle room. It sets a new standard for inflexible.
Does this expectation extend to adults? Of course not. They get to continue going along in their sometimes better and sometimes worse ways never thinking about the consequences. Good moods or bad, smiles or frowns, clean plates or not. No one is keeping a list of their naughty or nice times. No one is compiling an incident report on them. They assume they are above all this childish nonsense. Actually it never occurs to them that anyone would even consider applying that naughty or nice standard to them. They are above and beyond such childhood constraints.
Well okay. It is what it is. I thought I would at least talk with someone about the rules and possibly work out something a little less inflexible.
I thought I would start with bed time. It seems pretty arbitrary to me and I have no say about what is reasonable and appropriate. It is obvious that bed time should be associated with being tired and I am just not tired at the exact same time every day. I also have a few more issues that I want to propose for reconsideration.
Why can’t I speak up when adults are talking if I disagree or have a point I want to make? They are quick to interrupt me or make me listen to them when they want to correct me or don’t agree with what I think. It’s a good for the goose good for the gander thing but my goose is always the one to get cooked. That just does not seem fair to me.
Do you think I can just sit down and have a productive conversation with whoever is making those rules or even better, can I negotiate directly with whoever is keeping that list? I don’t take exception with having some rules, and lists probably have their place in the scheme of things. I am not advocating for anarchy for kids. I simply think that the status quo has run its course. it is time to revise the rules and to expose this list making to kid scrutiny. Let’s get it out in the open where its unfairness and inflexibility are subjected to the light of day.
I asked around about the rules and everyone does know that there are rules and being nice while refraining from being naughty is essential if I want to benefit from the holiday goodies bonanza. There is some confusion about exactly what the rules are and specifically how I can be sure I am complying, but there is no disagreement about whether or not there are rules and that non compliance is unacceptable. Naughty is a definite no no.
I get that. Being good and doing good are good as is being eligible for the goodies. The idea is that adults cannot get enough of that goodness. I don’t think they give much thought to how anxious it makes me. Sure, they know I am excited about the holiday goodies and hope to be one of the favored kids when the day comes for distribution. But I’m talking about being anxious, my real apprehension about my final status when goody time finally gets here.
I could go on about this some more but it might get me a check mark on the list for whining. I think that would run a big chance of being designated as naughty. I think whining is one of those naughty things but am not sure. My problem is that I could be naughty and not even know it. For all I know I am already one of the naughty kids and am already out of the running for the holiday goodies. When you get down to it, it’s all about that list and I have no way of knowing what is on it or even where it is. It is just out there ready to zap me.
That brings me to why I am posting this today. Surely someone knows where the list is and can find out what is on it. I am so worried about it that I can’t sleep or at least can’t go to sleep when they decide it is my bed time. You can see how it goes. They tell me to go to bed and go to sleep. I worry about that list and can’t go to sleep. They then tell me that someone is keeping a list and checking it twice whether I am sleeping or whether I am awake. Here I am running a big chance of being designated as naughty and can’t stop thinking about that list and definitely can’t go to sleep. Around and around it goes.
If you know where the list is and can check, am I being naughty or nice? I just can’t tell for sure and I really want to be sure. If you find out, will you let me know, please?
Thanks for stopping by. We have a special audio clip for you in this episode. Instead of sharing a tip for making a difference to people who make a difference to you, Gary has shared his semester assignment from audio school with the podcast team and we thought you would enjoy it too. The people in the interview are audio school faculty who have had their actual words edited to serve the purpose, taking what they actually said out of the original context. It is just for fun.
You may be interested to know that the audio clip includes a dozen or so audio tricks and techniques that may not be all that obvious. Listen carefully to see if you can identify them. Also, Gary tells us that there is a tiny error in the text or spoken part of the clip and one small editing error in the interview portion. Perhaps you will have fun finding these minor mistakes. Of course, you may be able to find other issues that Gary has not discovered. If so, let us know at feedback at How To Matter dot net.
Gary has finished his first semester of audio school and will return to the How To Matter headquarters in the spring. In the mean while, the other members of the podcast team and I will continue sharing tips and suggestions for making a difference to people who make a difference to you each week. Let me simply remind us all that to matter makes a difference and to make a difference matters. Please enjoy this audio treat.
Welcome to an #IdeaGenerator session from the headquarters of #HowToMatter where the #PodcastTeam is sharing ideas for the #HowToMatterPodcast. Let’s listen in.
Speaker 0: Thanks to all of you for making it to our #IdeaGenerator get together. Let’s just follow our usual process. Whoever wants can share an idea or perspective with the #PodcastTeam with the only caveat being that the idea or perspective needs to help our listeners better pursue their interest in making a difference with people who make a difference to them. Who wants to go first?
Speaker 1:I have been kind of stuck on something we shared a while back. You may recall that #GarrisonKeellor said that some luck lies in not getting what we thought we wanted but getting what we have, which once we have got it we may be smart enough to see is what we would have wanted had we known. He does have a way with words but When you get down to it, we might not even be able to tell when we have been dealt four aces in life’s great poker game. We may be sitting here with the winning hand and don’t know it. Even worse, we may think we lost. It’s at moments like this when we need to focus on a message like the one from #RoseKennedy who reminded us that birds sing after a storm; so why shouldn’t we feel as free to delight in whatever remains to us?
I am thinking that life certainly has its ups and downs, good days and bad, challenges and opportunities. The key for us is in seizing the opportunities, maximizing the good days, taking full advantage of life’s ups.
Of course, the big question is then how do we do this? I am thinking that it is like #FrankClark pointed out when he said that if we can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere. Our bad days, our challenges, life’s downs are but prelude to the delights that remain. However objectionable life is for us today, we will do well to do as #WinstonChurchill advised us when he said that if we are going through hell, we should just keep going.
I don’t know who said it but the point is that a bend in the road is not the end of the road unless we fail to make the turn. I guess we could always consider a strategy like running away and hiding. I suppose our idea would be to somehow bypass life’s hassles? That’s at least a thought but as we imagine our alternatives, we will do well to recall what #UncleRemus discovered long ago. We can’t run away from trouble. There ain’t no place that far.
I think it was #OliverWendellHolmes who pointed out that if he had a formula for bypassing trouble he would not pass it around. He believed that Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. He did not embrace trouble thinking that is as bad as treating it as an enemy. But he did say meet it as a friend, for we’ll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it.
When we get down to living it, life may or may not have the silver lining #GarrisonKeellor hinted at or be quite as good for us as #Emerson suggested when he said that we acquire the strength we have overcome. Still, it really is true that it just would not be a picnic without the ants.
Speaker 0: I definitely agree. Thanks for sharing that with us. Do we have any other takers for this #IdeaGenerator?
Speaker 2: I don’t have anything quite so well thought out but I do wonder if we aren’t sometimes tempted to stay stuck to avoid offending someone or dealing with what we think will be the #criticism or negative reactions of other people. I know we usually should not simply try to avoid dealing with conflict, disagreements, and difficult issues for fear of stepping on the feelings of others. Even so it’s not normally a good idea to charge ahead insensitively or inconsiderately. Somehow we need to figure out a way to deal concurrently with the issue or concern and with the feelings and sensitivities of other people. It is a pretty tricky balancing act but do it we must. Our willingness to hang in there is I think key to whether we are able to make the difference we truely want to make.
Speaker 0: Thank you for sharing. I think your ideas are sound and will likely be useful for our listeners as well.