Thoughts About Words

A shot from my CocoaLove 2015 talk, courtesy of Curtis Herbert:  @parrots   

A shot from my CocoaLove 2015 talk, courtesy of Curtis Herbert: @parrots 

January 22, 2016
I spent a good deal of time today thinking about word choices. I've done a lot of work in this area, and I've done several conference talks on the topic as well. In my work as an interface designer, word choices were an imperative component of designing useful, empathetic digital products. In my work as a coach, catching on to the word choices my clients use is crucial in helping them.

I shared the talk, "NoExcuses" recently, wherein I made a point about choosing the word MAKE time, instead of FIND time. If you try to find time, you're more than likely never going to locate it. And if you're lucky enough to locate it, it's more than likely not sustainable. When you MAKE time, you have that time for as long as you continue making it. Making time implies intention. Finding time is passive.

I believe word choices play an important role in how we set our own intentions and expectations in life. Today's pondering on the topic was triggered by a comment I received about a talk I did at the CocoaLove Conference last October. My talk title was a play on Yoda's "Do. Or do not. There is no Try." I called it, "Do. Or GTFO. There is no Try."

I received a handful of comments about Yoda's saying. Comments that in summary take the stance that if you don't try, there's no opportunity to learn/fail/succeed. I can appreciate the sentiment there, but when we really get down to word choices I would still land on the point that Yoda makes the better word choice. Yoda says DO. There is no try. It's about the intention you set with "try" versus "do". I believe, whether you intend it or not, "try" gives you a subconscious escape from the amount of effort you will exert in your attempt. "Try" implies it's OK to not succeed. "Try" is passive. Even though DOING may still result in failure, and failure is acceptable, when you say, "I am going to DO this," your intention is fully committed. Your heart is present. Your mind is present. You, are going to DO the thing. 

I understand the point of view that making life changes is not as simple as changing a word here or there. I understand that life situations are sometimes not as simple or luxurious as these seemingly silly pontifications may allude. What I can tell you is that mindset and attitude affect life deeply. The words we use, the thoughts we think, when you dig deeply and push for the positive and intentional words, you create something deep inside that can open a pinhole of light when everything is dark. If you create one tiny pinhole of light, you can create another, and another. After a while, it's not a black, empty nothing, but a galaxy of opportunity.


When Starting Small Gets Big

January 19, 2016
If you know me, and have followed any of my monthly challenges (now called "tinychallenges"), you know I'm all about starting small. I start everything super small. It allows me to remove excuses I used to use like,

  • I don't have time
  • I can't afford it
  • I'm not good enough at X, y, z
  • I don't have the right tools
  • I have bigger priorities

Those were many of the leading excuse contenders. Once I identified them, I was able to chip away at them. There was a long time where I wasn't able to see that I was making excuses. They weren't excuses to me, they were real reasons and they were why I couldn't do many things I wanted to do. I believed that. I believed that people who told me otherwise simply didn't understand the realities of my life, my situation.

I started small. My first mistake was not starting small enough. At first I thought 30 minutes was small. Then 15-20 minutes. But even the attempt at 15 minutes of something kept unfolding more failures than successes. So I moved toward even smaller. I went tiny. 1-2 minutes a day here, no more than 5 minutes a day there. I proved to myself that when I want something badly enough, when I'm hungry enough to make it important, I hack my way through the excuses and I see them for what they are. 

I proved to myself that when I start small, I build endurance and desire to push myself more, to test my boundaries, see how much I can take before all my spinning plates come crashing to the floor and I have to start again. After lots of "tiny", I was able to experiment with bigger things. Sometimes bigger meant multiple tiny things in parallel, or bumping 2-minute max to become a 10-minute max. I learned that starting again is never really starting again. Even when everything crashes and you start over from what feels like zero, you have new experience under your belt, and your boundaries are expanded. Your objectives grow, your dedication to pursue your limits grows. You will miss the mark of expectation you hold for yourself sometimes. But if you keep going, you get better. Stronger. Braver. You begin to rule out concern for the expectation you think others hold you to and you keep moving. Trust YOUR heart, your path, your belief system. 

If you think you can't, you can. The key can be found in breaking things down smaller. Small adds up. Small becomes big. When you look back at your collections of small, but constant effort, you will be proud of what you've done. You will see your small become big. 

I set out to do 5 minutes of the personal project today, I did 65. \o/


Thoughts While Driving

January 18, 2016
Today was full of driving. And thinking. And singing along with Morrissey. 

I thought about how to get my kids to want to do some 5k events with me. Sophia expressed some interest in doing one, as long as it was a Zombie run, we’re considering the “5krundead”.

I thought about how sore my legs are today, it’s comical, really. 

I thought about food, because I endlessly feel like this is my biggest challenge in life. Eating well, and teaching my kids healthy habits. Deciding “what’s for lunch/dinner.” Ugh.

I thought about what an amazing Star Wars Half Marathon weekend we just had.

I thought about my 3 words from our #tinychallenges podcast (inspired by Chris Brogan), and how I would make decisions that support those words. And while I was thinking about that, I thought about some ways to make #tinychallenges a little more helpful for folks just starting out. When I got home I did some work on that, and I plan to get that on the site before February.

I thought about all the things I need to write down/add to my master todo list, and sort for the week. 

A super short post today, overall it was a pretty uneventful day, lots of driving, lots of thinking. A good amount of singing. ;)