I’m pretty sure there was no script. If there was a script, I definitely never saw it. In the very early days, there was for my part a lot of, “why?” Why, why, why, but seriously, why? There was a prolonged period of, “what if…” and a long list of things that got tried. (We jumped ATVs over people. Just sayin’.) Then there was a too-long period where I realized that when I multiplied my power of agency by my charisma I could achieve much mischief; never quite Evil per se, but rather than get myself into trouble I realized it was fun to get others to get us all into trouble. (I was aiming for “get themselves into trouble” but I usually missed that mark.)
Gaining agency is gaining the capacity to do something differently from, or in addition to, the events that simply happen to you. Most famous people go off-script early, usually in more than one way.
~ Simon Sarris from, https://simonsarris.substack.com/p/the-most-precious-resource-is-agency
You know that stupid question, “if you could get a message to your younger self, would you and what would you say?” I think I finally—51.5 years on!—have a message which I definitely would send back to myself: “Make more decisions; don’t often go with the first idea you have.” Whether it was mental or physical or who-knows-what, I was too often fast out of the blocks at the sound of the starter’s pistol. But too rarely did I consider if I even wanted to be in the race. I was crawling, and one day I stood up and ran (according to my mom, and apparently saying “why? why? why? why?”) so I’m confident I had the agency thing sorted. But what was I seeking? To where was I running? And really, maybe just right here in this moment is sort of nice, no?
And Stoicism, it could be said, is a philosophy about how to make better choices. This is what we see in a book like Meditations. We see Marcus Aurelius journaling, working to get better at choosing. Choosing the right things to value, the right things to think, the right things to focus on, the right response to a difficult situation.
~ Ryan Holiday from, https://ryanholiday.net/8-choices-that-will-make-your-life-better/
One of the first things you learn about philosophy is that the word means “the love of truth.” It’s the sort of clever thing a much younger version of myself would have bludgeoned others with. “See me study philosophy!” I long ago learned to set aside such cleverness.
Fortunately I learned that philosophy—at least, the sort I’m interested in—is about self-improvement. The proof of my work shows in myself… in my actions and the way I think, and is noticeable to those who care to pay attention. (I’m not suggesting that everyone should pay attention to me.) Surprisingly, at the deeper level of self-improvement, reminding myself that “philosophy” means “the love of truth”, has returned to being a great thing to trot out regularly… as a reminder to myself.
We’re not just respecting people’s time. We’re respecting their voice and their passion.
~ Seth Godin from, https://seths.blog/2021/09/respecting-their-time/
It’s a good post from Godin. This post of mine is a literal tangent from one thing he mentioned…
In cases where “we’re all going to be speaking” isn’t on the agenda, going around the room, (ala “let’s all introduce ourselves”,) robs people of their agency. I’ve heard it discussed that this wastes time—it does. But vastly worse is the fact that it removes people’s agency.
(Agency is critical. I’ll go out on a limb and say that depriving someone of agency is literally the worst thing you can do to a person. All the horrible physical crimes you just thought of, involve first depriving the victim of their agency. Imagine if taking someone’s agency was treated as the worst crime possible.)
I imagine I’m leading some session, and someone is sitting in the space. When their turn comes around… suppose they don’t want to speak? What if they didn’t want to be heard? By saying, “let’s go around”—even if I say, “and introduce yourself if you want to“—regardless, they are going to be seen. They have to speak, to decline to speak. They have to leave the room, or hide, etc. My “let’s go around the room,” literally robs everyone of their choice.
There are of course lots of situations where “going around” makes perfect sense. For example, if we’re sitting in a restorative justice circle, everyone there knows how it works. You’re free to not speak, and you know that you are going be seen. But the vast majority of times I’ve been in a “let’s go around” situation, it’s the theft of agency variety.
We have far more control in our lives than many embrace. We create or co-create our experiences in life, and each day is a new opportunity to be fully engaged in the present moment. It’s the present moment where glimpses of our potential are revealed and expressed. A living masterpiece is not drawn on a canvas or etched in stone or inked by pen. It’s the pursuit and expresssion of applied insight and wisdom.
~ Michael Gervais
I disagree with, “[w]e have far more control…” because clearly we actually have no—absolutely no—control. If that strikes you, I suggest you pause. Imagine something you have control of. Now imagine the scenario where your control is taken away. I’m not trying to scare you; there’s nothing here you don’t already know. All of the “control” is fleeting; that’s not actually control. That an illusion of control.
If I could change that quote I’d just quibble with that first, “control,” and suggest it be changed to “choice.” Because the rest of that quote is frickin’ powerful. Literally every person has choices. For me, my “worst case” choices are quite rosy. (“First World Problems” is the meme.) There are certainly people who are literally only able to choose among various evils.
The illusion of control is toxic. But the reality of choice is empowering.
The first thing you need to know is that individuals have far more power than ever before in history. […] The second thing you need to know is that the only thing holding you back from becoming the kind of person who changes things is this: Lack of faith. Faith that you can do it. Faith that it’s worth doing. Faith that failure won’t destroy you.
~ Seth Godin
I continue to enjoy the Movers Mindset project for many reasons. In recent months, I’ve been stepping back from the body of work and I keep having the same thought: I think this is really great, but I feel there should be something more useful as a result of all the work. (Useful specifically for me, I mean.) I’m convinced that there are lessons that I’ve missed, or not managed to hold onto; Insights that can only be seen from a perspective that is not within one particular conversation.
So I’ve been tinkering on creating, well, something. I don’t know what it is yet, or how to describe it either. But I have faith that it’s worth trying to create something which enables something new to be extracted from all the conversations I’ve captured.
Some days, I have far more questions than answers to share.
The best way I can describe it is a “calling.” I see something—something being done in an inefficient way, a question asked, a powerful tool not being used—and I see possibilities. Ways to combine things, to expand things, or a small bit of connection that would make two things vastly more powerful. It’s a flash of opportunity.
The urge to drop whatever it is that I’m currently doing, and jump on the new opportunity is irresistible. Not quite absolutely irresistible, but it’s close. I don’t get distracted so much by things, but rather by the opportunity for me to take some action to create, integrate, combine, smash and rebuild better, rearrange and permute. Oh yes, it’s a calling. It’s almost an addiction.
Actually, maybe it is an addiction. An addiction to action?
Certainly, I’m biased towards action. That’s a good thing. As an agent—emotional too of course, but as a being who has agency—being biased towards action is a necessary component of being able to consistently affect the world.
However, I’ve come to believe that there’s such a thing as too much action. It’s completely possible, (exhibit ‘A’, me,) to attempt too much action, to do too much, and to lose oneself in a flurry of activity. I’m beginning to suspect that, now that I’m a master of taking action, I need to work on assessing leverage. Feel a calling? How much leverage would that action generate? How much good/benefit/creation/change would that action generate? How, as it were, does it multiply the actions of others?
That might be a theme for 2020: How much does it multiply?