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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Favorites: October 2018

This is a various and sundry list of stuff I have liked and used lately, from the sublime to the mundane. I receive nothing from endorsing these things (though I welcome it!). Here goes:

Favorite new book. I have jumped on the BrenĂ© Brown train and pre-ordered her latest book, Dare to Lead. I am halfway through Part One and like it so far. It is providing some new insights on management and leadership. I will add that I am a tiny bit skeptical at the same time -- the book is getting heavy marketing on Instagram and Linkedin and the book's language borders on cheerleading at times... Nevertheless, if you want to wade through some of those somewhat minor things, I am finding that the content is already very solid.

Favorite podcast. It feels like I have a new favorite podcast every month and this month is no exception, though actually I have two for this month. The first one is called The Sleeping at Last podcast and it is produced by a guy named Ryan O'Neal (different from the actor) who was part of a group called Sleeping at Last. Anyway, he is producing songs built around the nine types on the Enneagram and it Completely. Blows. My. Mind. Just listen to it if you are interested in or seeking to know more about the Enneagram. Second, and this one is just for fun, is one called Last Seen by WBUR in Boston. It follows the famous Isabella Stewart Museum art heist from 1991 and tries to solve the crime. It's a fun diversion.

Favorite snack. Granted, I don't know if this is a snack or a treat, but Trader Joe's Scandinavian Swimmers are a favorite impulse buy of mine. I've always said Swedish Fish are my favorite candy, but frankly I'm a little torn... these are a teeny bit chewier, softer and quite yummy. Yes please!

Favorite show. Like podcasts, I have two faves at the moment. The latest season of Great British Baking Show on Netflix has won me over. I was pretty determined to not like the new one because I was bitter that they're getting a little more commercial and that the original hosts, along with Mary Berry were leaving, But I like all the changes and they've kept all the best parts in my opinion. I wasn't sure about the hosts at first but they have grown on me. Second favorite show right now is Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain. Sadly, I only watched the show very occasionally when Anthony Bourdain was alive, but now that he is gone, I am finding it a very unique and powerful show. It isn't really so much about food as it is about anthropology and sociology and he does an amazing job capturing the spirit and heart of every country he visits. I really like it, and he is quite a complex and intriguing human being. I have so many questions...

Favorite form of transportation. If you have known me for a while, you already know that I sold my car in 2010 and now get around by my scooter or my bike, along with an occasional bus or Uber ride. I bought my latest bike in December and I'm still completely in love with it. It is the Electra Loft 7-speed and it has got this beautiful subtle color they call Green Tea. If you are at all in the market for a bike, I cannot recommend this one enough. It is comfortable, fun and so enjoyable. I always feel like I am on vacation when I ride it.

Favorite playlist. I could name several, but my current go-to's on Pandora are Instrumental Folk (music to work by) and Avett Brothers (cooking, cleaning, mindless email).

Favorite advice column. The Sweet Spot in the New York Times. I am listing this column as a favorite because I am still mourning the loss of one of my past favorite podcasts called Dear Sugars. They just finished for good at the end of the summer and I'm still in mourning about it. But this advice column is written by the same people who hosted it, Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond, and while it does not capture the energy of the podcast, it's a decent substitute.

Speed Round:

  • Favorite lunch spot. Whole Foods Salad Bar - always a party in my mouth! And it supports all of my high maintenance food intolerances.
  • Favorite coffee spot. Sorry, I have to go local - Handlebar Coffee is HEADS above the rest.
  • Favorite place to rely on while traveling for work. Feeling slightly guilty admitting this, but it's Starbucks. I just KNOW I can get a reliable coconut milk latte there, and the Sous Vide Egg Bites are FABULOUS and give me the protein boost I usually need when I'm scrambling between airport gates.
  • Favorite cat. Obviously. Still Oliver!
Please share your favorites, big and small. If I get enough of them I'll run a fan favorites post. Fill me in!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

What Do You Really Want?

We all have goals. Big ones, small ones. One of my small goals is to read at least one book per month. In the past few months I've read Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans, Educated by Tara Westover, The Unseen Real by Stephen Seamands, Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown, The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, and Lessons in Leadership by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.

September's book was... wait for it... The Jesuit Guide to (Almost Everything) by James Martin. I know, I know, not a super sexy title. But I appreciate Father Martin's Twitter feed a lot, and when this book popped up as a $1.99 Kindle deal, I thought, "Why not?" Though you may have no interest whatsoever in this book, I do encourage you to take a few moments and consider one section I read as I was hurrying on September 29 to finish it by the end of the month (sort of lame, I know).

In the thirteenth chapter, which focuses on discerning purpose in life, be it in work, job, career, vocation and life, these two questions halted my hurried reading:

  1. What should I do?
  2. Who should I be?
The rest of the chapter explores these questions in careful, non-anxious details. These are not pushy "shoulds" here. I loved it.

The author points out that we need to probably discern between our wants and our desires. Huh? Then he quotes a writer named Margaret Silf, who states profoundly, "There are deep desires and there are shallow wants."

The entire chapter of Fr. Martin's book -- heck, the whole thing -- does a much better job than I can here in shaping this conversation, but I was especially struck by some questions given that came, once again, from Margaret Silf. Take a deep breath, turn away from distractions, and consider these:

Is there something you've always wanted to do but never managed?

What are your unfinished dreams?

If you had your life over again, what would you change?

If you only had a few months to live, how would you use the time?

If a significant sum of money came your way, how would you spend it? 

If you were granted three wishes, what would they be?

Is there anyone, or anything, for whom you would literally give your life?

Take time ponder one or more of these questions. The responses you make to yourself -- provided they are honest answers you feel you ought to give -- will be pointers to where your deepest desires are rooted.

Look closely, take time to reflect on what you find. There may be patterns in your desiring that help you more fully understand who you are.

I have decided to reflect on these quarterly (yes, I've put them in my calendar already!). Perhaps you might consider doing the same? 

While much of my work with clients revolves around managing this, leading that, confronting this, strategizing that, I am grateful that I also often end up talking about bigger and deeper things like calling and purpose with people as well, whether they are fresh college graduates or executives preparing for retirement. Can I encourage you to set aside some time soon to reflect on these questions? I did just that last weekend and I am so glad I did. Let me know how it goes.


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