Belief: The Un-faith

In the English language Belief and Faith have largely come to mean the same thing.

However, the difference between the two is rather nuanced and the simplification, in the name of efficiency and speed of use, as usual, has led us astray and muddied the distinct and profound difference between the two terms, which paradoxically are in fact opposites.

Belief is the insistence that the truth is what one would wish it to be.

Believers open their mind to the truth, on the condition that it fits in with their preconceived thoughts and wishes – think about it, when was the last time you acknowledged that a strongly held belief was no longer true?

We believe because it makes us feel secure.

It gives our lives the perception of value and meaning.

It is fixed.

It makes little room for truths that conflict with the things we believe and hold sacred.

We can only believe what we have already known – preconceived and imagined.

 

Faith, on the other hand, is the exact opposite.

Faith is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be.

People with faith have no preconceptions.

They plunge into the unknown.

They let go.

 

We believe because it comes naturally.

It’s cultivated by the system at large.

A cultivated yearning to always desire.

A yearning to focus on the future and the past – ignoring the present.

A desire to grasp at any sense of meaning we can find in our lives and to hold on to it and keep it for one’s own.

We have been fooled into believing.

The belief that if we earned a few more dollars we would be a bit happier.

The belief that if we went to a slightly more prestigious college we could be a bit more successful.

The belief that we need to consume more and always.

The belief that life is something to be taken by the horns and made the most of.

However, you can’t grasp onto life.

It simply isn’t possible.

Just as you cannot walk off with a river in a bucket.

If you try to capture running water in a bucket, you will always be disappointed.

Water does not run in a bucket.

To have running water you must let go of it.

The same is true of life.

To have faith is to let go – to discover the ultimate reality of life.

We enter this world as babies – open, curious, a thirst for figuring out how the world works and a desire to understand reality.

However, this phase, for most of us, is brief.

We quickly abandon faith, openness to reality and instead, let our minds harden into doctrine.

Set in our ways, we walk around with a construct of how the world works and naively convincing ourselves that we know what is fact and what is fiction.

The truth is that we don’t know.

Faith is being comfortable with not knowing.

Seeing the world as it is.

For you cannot see the sky through a window by merely painting the window blue.

To believe is to have unfaith, as faith is not clinging – it is letting go.

 

Scaling Up Your Life

In its simplest form, economies of scale is a phenomenon whereby the efficiency of a large scale producer, which is attained over time, allows it to spread out the high-cost basis of its capital expenditures over a larger per unit basis, lowering the per unit cost. With economies of scale, a widget that cost $1.00 to manufacture now only cost $0.25.

Simply, a company attains the ability to do more with less. It attains a competitive advantage.

The same phenomenon exists in our personal lives.

Reading scales.

The more books you read, the more knowledge you have –  the richer your perspective. Your ability to problem solve, be creative, and do work that matters increases at a multiple higher than the number of books you have read.  Knowledge becomes a competitive advantage.

Exercising scales.

The more you run the healthier you are. The more in-shape you become. Your ability to run faster and further increases. Being healthy and in-shape becomes a competitive advantage.

Relationships scale.

Writing scales.

Eating healthy scales.

Public speaking scales.

Being generous and empathic scales.

However, not everything we do in our personal lives scales.

Watching Netflix doesn’t scale.

You watch one episode. Then two episodes. But what comes next? More episodes? There’s no change. There’s no improvement. There’s no competitive advantage from watching Netflix.

Watching cable news doesn’t scale.

You watch it. Your fear increases. You feel helpless. What’s next?

Reassurance doesn’t scale.

Likes do not scale.

Follows do not scale.

Re-tweets do not scale.

It turns out that the things we are afraid of. The things that are hard to do. The things that take time. Are the things that scale. The things in which the more we do them, the better we become.

How much of your day do you spend doing things that are going to make your better?

Things that are going to increase your ability to connect with others?

Things that are going to increase your ability to create the world you want to see?

Things that help you leap?

Things that scale?

 

 

The Postmortem & The Infinite Task

The postmortem:

  • maybe it was because I didn’t shave
  • maybe I should have worn a blue shirt instead
  • maybe they didn’t like me
  • should I have not said that?

The feelings and thoughts that we have when things don’t go as we wished.

When our work resonates a little bit less than we desired.

The post-mortem is necessary, as it allows for reflection. Further, it is the opportunity that allows us to learn and iterate about what we could have done differently to get the outcome we desired.

However, the postmortem must be short, as it can obstruct our view of how infinite the role of the artist really is.

The commitment to doing work that matters. Work that is personal. Work that changes the receiver.

The role of the artist never ends. We always get to create again. The opportunity to refine our message. The opportunity to chart another course.

The artist lives to take the next leap.

Lives to ignore the little voice in our head that tells us that we are not ready. That it’s too soon. That we should wait for the right opportunity.

The artist wakes up every day and chooses to pick themselves because every day it is their turn to create the world they want to see.

In the connection economy, the rules are different. The person that picks themselves the most wins. The person that fails the most wins.

Because if you fail the most, that means you’ve had the opportunity to keep playing, time and time again.

The opportunity to keep creating work that matters.

The opportunity to keep creating work that is personal.

The opportunity to keep creating work that changes the receiver.

The opportunity to be an artist.

An opportunity that is before us all.

The choice is yours.

 

Fear, Tension, & a Spray Bottle

Not being a good husband

Not being a good father

Being a bad friend

Not being a good brother

Not living up to the expectations I have set for myself

Not being able to handle the adversity life throws at me

Not following my passion

Inability to identify my true passion

Not giving back to my community

Not making a difference

Losing my parents

Losing loved ones

Not taking enough risk

Losing my current sense of self and purpose

Inability to adapt to change

— — — — — —

The list above represents all of the things I Fear, or at least all of the things I could come up with in five minutes. The idea of Fear is an interesting concept. It is defined in the dictionary as,

“an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.”

At the core of that definition is emotion, which is defined as:

“a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from ones circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.”

As the definition illustrates, there are a number of factors that impact our emotional experiences. It is my belief that while we cannot control many of the factors listed above, we can control our state of mind and how we experience these emotions. Therefore, we can control how we think about Fear and how we experience Fear.

It is my goal to embrace Fear and the inherent tension that is present in the outcomes that I seek and there underlying fears. As I reflect on the list I came up with, the things I Fear are decaying relationships, unsuccessful outcomes, not making a difference, and the loss people that are important to me. Fear, I would like to argue, signifies importance or significance. As such, by embracing Fear, we can use the things we Fear as a compass to make sure we are investing our time and energy in the things that matter the most to us.

Embracing Fear is like a spray bottle. Just as with Fear, there is a tension present in operating a spray bottle. To have any outcome at all we must embrace the tension, and press the handle of the bottle. The mist produced by a spray bottle goes in all directions, there is a level of uncertainty regarding where exactly the water will fall. The same uncertainty of outcomes is present when we embrace our Fears. However, just as with the mist released from the spray bottle, the water or outcome will land somewhere in the vicinity we were hoping for, an outcome that we are satisfied with and can live with.

Will you press the lever on your Fears?