What if there really are no instructions for getting from here to there? What if that feeling of discomfort, awkwardness, uncertainty

is the exact reason and the point of the yearning we are feeling about wanting to go from this point to that one.

We wake up one day and there’s an idea, a fleeting thought. We let it hang out in our minds for a few minutes, but we discard it quickly.

It’s crazy. 

I don’t know how. 

It won’t work. 

And if that has worked in the past for the ideas you’ve had, you might not know what I am talking about.

The idea that continues to penetrate, like Chinese water torture. With the persistence of a flowing river, eroding the rocks, creating its own path.

That is when we start to wonder.

What if it’s not so crazy?

What if I could learn how?

What if it does work?

Getting from here to there isn’t easy. And it’s not comfortable. And, hell, it might be crazy — to everyone around you, it probably will be — but there’s a reason it’s calling your name.

There’s a reason it won’t leave you alone.

Take one small action, keep your eyes open, stop asking for permission.

 

Winning vs Losing

When we play a game, we understand there’s a chance we will lose. We want to win, because winning gives us opportunities to become the champion, to become more popular, to have more power.

There is a lot to be said about winning.

Look for quotes about winning and you’ll find one for every situation:

“Winner takes all.”

“Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”

When it comes to communities, though, winning takes on a different meaning.

In order for a community to win, there must be a different approach to winning.

One in which the idea of winning doesn’t measure success by how many losers they’ve left in their path to the top.

Too many losers in the community brings everyone down, which leads to an unhealthy, or even toxic environment in which no one thrives, limiting the chances the community will win.

A community — big or small — is responsible for creating an environment that measures success differently.

Sentiment, quality of life, reputation, culture, accessibility, just to name a few.

In order to improve these areas, communities need leaders who recognize that you can’t use the same metrics for quality of life for everyone. Each member of the community has different needs.

If the community leaders focus too much in one direction, focusing on the tangible, easy to see measurements of success, they will easily forget that there are the less visible, non-obvious aspects of their community that will begin to decline.

It’s easy to rattle off the wins. To show the great strides being made in unemployment, or real estate development.

But the hard work starts when we want to improve things that are harder to measure. Sentiment, quality of life (for everyone?) reputation, culture, accessibility.

It’s a place most winners don’t want to go. Because they are unsure how they will be able to win, in a game that has no clear grid for measuring success.

It’s easier to focus on what we’re good at, than it is to find a way to become better at the things we are not. But this is a fallacy —  this is how we become (and stay) mediocre.

In the end, if we want our community to win, we have to look beyond the easy to see, easy to measure, and start to find ways to improve the things that will impact our community in more subtle, less obvious ways.

And, this might mean losing for awhile. But if the end game is a better community, the results of the effort will be more winning.

The legacy of our community, then, will be one that serves the future generations — with strength, resilience — valuing the hard work it takes to do the best thing for the community they will soon serve as leaders.

If we’re playing to win, we have to remember – We are all on the same team.

We all remember the story of the Troll who lived under the bridge and refused to allow the Three Billy Goats to pass, when they arrived at the bridge. They wanted cross in order to enjoy the green grass on the other side of the bridge.But instead of letting them pass, he threatened to eat them. The first two Billy Goats convinced the troll to let them pass, promising him that their big brother was bigger, and would be a much more satisfying meal. Of course, when the third goat arrives, he was big enough and fast enough to take the troll out.

And that’s the sad end of the story for the troll.

There’s little concern or consideration for the troll in the story.

But what if we did consider the troll?

Why is he so mean? Who taught him to be so mean? Why does he just sit under the bridge? Doesn’t he have a home? What does he stand to gain? Is it just because he’s hungry? Or does he get satisfaction from the fact that he can scare the smaller goats? Isn’t there some kindness in the fact that he did let the first two go? Why is he tricked by the first two goats to allow himself to be met with the largest of them all only to be obliterated because the third goat was able to knock him off the bridge?

Of course, it’s silly to go through this exercise with the troll in the folktale, but what about the trolls in every day life?

I recently had the opportunity to meet someone in real life that I had previously regarded as a social media troll, because of his comments on Facebook about a particular topic, on which we were opposed.

The circumstances of why we were meeting were not the best, but we both recognized that there was a human being on the other side of the screen. And we met, discussed the issue, and discovered we had quite a bit in common. At the end, a friendship seemed possible, and empathy prevailed.

I’m so grateful for that experience — but I realize it’s not always possible to come face to face with the person who seems to have no other desires than to pick fights online. Much like the Troll on the bridge.

But what if we ask ourselves the questions I posed about the Troll? Why is this person so mean? What is behind their behavior? Were they given all of the love, attention and guidance that I was as a child? Are they struggling financially? Is their relationship on the rocks? Are they dealing with a dying parent, or mourning the loss of a loved one? Are they covering a fear by acting this way?

The Internet, in the hands of people without empathy, dehumanizes us. It allows us to forget that there is a person on the other side of those words. And, it’s so much easier (and satisfying) to go head to head with them and try to knock them off the bridge.

After all, who do they think they are? What gives them the right to be so outrageous? Our sense of right vs wrong and our desire to seek justice, and defend our good name takes over and we allow the trolls to have the power — even though what they probably are seeking is validation, love, attention. Not power.

What if they don’t even realize the impact their words or actions are having on you? What if, it’s not even personal?

Could you, would you be willing to let them have a pass. To let it go, to not take it personally, and just see them as someone who might be hurting?

Sure, there’s always an argument against this option. Bullies should be dealt with. I don’t condone the actions of the would-be trolls who create drama and toxicity to our social streams.

But, what if you invited them to coffee — instead of engaging in an online war that, most likely, no one will win, and will definitely force you to waste precious time.

Don’t worry if the troll has the last word. At some point, the biggest billy goat is going to come along, and that will be the end of the story.

The Artist gives her heart to the cause. Her work, I’ve heard many times, isn’t for the audience.

It’s for Art’s sake. 

The Marketer positions the work so that the audience will make a decision to buy it. Her work, on the other hand is to profit from the Art.

This works very well when the production team is staffed with artists who are pleased with the opportunity to deliver their art for the greater good. It pleases their soul.

If the artists produce their art for an organization that recognizes the value of their art, they are well-compensated for their contribution. The Marketers, then take the work of the Artists and find a way to help the organization profit from the work the artists are contributing.

This, to me is a win-win proposal. It’s a conversation for another day.

The “hard work”, as Seth calls it, is when the Artist must also be the Marketer.

To feel the joy that comes from making art, and the passion to make a significant contribution, when she must also generate a living.

This might be why so many Artists struggle with Imposter syndrome.

On one hand, it’s our art, and it’s a joy to create it.

To achieve mastery of our art is our never-ending quest.

On the other hand, the agony of feeling like we must position our passion as a “business,” challenges the artist and leaves her questioning whether her motives are pure.

Whether she can make a difference, AND a living.

Getting paid to Sprint — is that the same as selling out? If (and that’s the big ‘IF’) she can profit from her Art, the same way an organization with its own marketing team might.

In the end, the Artist will choose to do what calls her soul and leads her to do work that matters.

And this, is what finding real talent might look like today. To know someone who would lay it all on the line for the sake of their art, is to know that someone is truly committed to the art that they produce.

The thing is, art isn’t easy.

If it were easy, art would not hang on walls, or be revered or appreciated, because it wouldn’t be art — it would be commonplace.

It if were easy, more people would choose to make a difference, instead of simply opting to make a living.

If it were easy, the young artist wouldn’t be discouraged by her parents from pursuing her art – (thank goodness that was not a challenge I ever experienced.)

So, maybe, art isn’t for art’s sake after all.

Maybe it’s for human’s sake.

Because the art of being human, taking the risk of being vulnerable, and waking up day after day knowing “this might not work” is exactly what makes us human, and the joy of doing work that matters might just become an art form …

Someday, this is what success might look like.