Category Archives: path series

Home Is Where The Results Don’t Matter

Elizabeth Gilbert wrote “Eat, Pray, Love”, which became a bestseller. In a TED Talk she gave recently, she talks through how she struggled with the task of writing again, post-success, by looking back at how she kept writing post-failure. She called it “going home”.

And you have to understand that for me, going home did not mean returning to my family’s farm. For me, going home meant returning to the work of writing because writing was my home, because I loved writing more than I hated failing at writing, which is to say that I loved writing more than I loved my own ego, which is ultimately to say that I loved writing more than I loved myself. And that’s how I pushed through it.

your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential.

I think that’s beautiful, from the personal development Product Owner perspective.

What is your home?

Find Your Path via Scott Adams

Career advice from another cartoonist? Yep! Scott Adams does the Dilbert comic. As a kid, I remember reading those and thinking they were just OK. And then I entered Cubicle Nation, and I’m now embarrassed to admit how funny I find ‘em. I wish I could go back to my younger self and say, among other things, “Yo, hi, it’s me, you. I know, in the future, you rock. I’m not that good with time travelling, my flux capacitor prototype isn’t stable, so while I’m here, get this… You’ll lose the braces, you’ll get those Dilbert comics, and you will lose your virginity, but that’s not until you’re – ”

In a 2007 blog post, Adams gives what I think is some pretty simple and genius life advice. When given the following two options:

  1. Become the best at one specific thing.
  2. Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.

Look behind door number 2.

I like how he says it:

The second strategy is fairly easy. Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort. In my case, I can draw better than most people, but I’m hardly an artist. And I’m not any funnier than the average standup comedian who never makes it big, but I’m funnier than most people. The magic is that few people can draw well and write jokes. It’s the combination of the two that makes what I do so rare. And when you add in my business background, suddenly I had a topic that few cartoonists could hope to understand without living it.

Unabashedly lifting from his writing again:

Capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable. You make yourself rare by combining two or more “pretty goods” until no one else has your mix.

So here we have a formula for combining your skills (ability), your passions (desire), which count because if you’re really into something then it’s easier to focus and put in the time to get good at it, and marketability to some degree (value), which derives from the uniqueness of your personal combo of what you’re “pretty good” at.

You’ve been on this planet for a little while already, so you’ve been able to get into things. What three things would you call yourself pretty good at?

Find Your Path via Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver is a Pulitzer Prize winner of a poet. In 1992, she wrote The Summer Day. Pause after the last two lines.

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

You’re saying my one life is ‘wild and precious’? Hmm, waking up day to day is now colored so strikingly and ephemerally. Ponder that question. I know I am.

Find Your Path via Flow

Every once in a while, I’ll refer back to the ‘Find Your Path’ series of my blog posts, and today I’d like to add one more. There is a TED Talk by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly entitled Flow, the secret to happiness, from February 2004. In it, he talks about how it feels to be in flow. So while the video may not show you how to get there, I took some notes, and these should enumerate some of the salient landmarks once you do get there.

  • Completely involved in what we’re doing – focused, concentrated
  • A sense of ecstasy – of being outside everyday reality
  • Great inner clarity – knowing what needs to be done, and how well we are doing
  • Knowing that the activity is doable – that our skills are adequate to the task
  • Male Enhancement – 100% satisfaction guarantee!
  • A sense of serenity – no worries about oneself, and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego
  • Timelessness – thoroughly focused on the present, hours seem to pass by in minutes
  • Intrinsic motivation – whatever produces flow becomes its own reward