The process of reflection

Much of the power of the Movers Mindset podcast’s signature question, “three words to describe your practice?” comes from thinking about one’s personal understanding of the word practice. In the podcast episodes, sometimes the guest’s discussion of that understanding is a profound part of their interview. Sometimes their surgical statement of three words is its sublime culmination.

In 2019, we posed the three-words question of the project itself. This turned out to be a surprisingly fruitful exercise. We came up with three words to describe our practice, and I subsequently adopted them as the three words to describe my practice:

Discovery. Reflection. Efficacy.

If those three words describe my practice—the journey of my whole life—then what is the purpose of this web site? Why go through all this work? It’s taken me 9 years and the previous 2,499 posts to understand:

It’s a vehicle for my process of reflection.

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Tension

I’ve been thinking about ways to create more opportunity for engagement among the people who are following the work of the Movers Mindset project. We’ve reached a point where we’re creating plenty of content and sharing ideas—but currently almost entirely in the broadcast direction. We’ve a considerable collection of people who are passively consuming.

Meanwhile, every time I manage to engage with someone [in this context of Movers Mindset], it’s an energizing exchange of ideas about movement, movement’s place in society, and sometimes even philosophy in general.

The whole project is intentionally aimed at people who are becoming, or already are, reflective. Such people tend to have made the growth step beyond low-value interaction and engagement and are increasingly aware of how they engage and expend their time especially online. I suppose the key is to simply engage with them one by one, until that becomes untenable for me.

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On podcasting

The short version of this story is simply: I have no idea what I’m doing, both on and off the mic. I’m simply curious. I try things. I make mistakes. I ask questions.

My podcasting journey began with the Movers Mindset project, which grew from conversations I started having as part of my personal journey rediscovering movement. Started in 2015, at first it was just a web site that shared others’ writing. But as I travelled, I kept finding myself in cool conversations until one day someone said, “you should have recorded that. I’d listen to that podcast.” Excited, but with no clue how much work it would be, I kicked off the Movers Mindset podcast at the start of 2017. For the first dozen episodes I did far too much of the work myself, until I wised up and started finding a few incredible people to share my new passion.

By this point I was devouring anything I could about interviewing. I smashed through thousands of podcast episodes in the process of wondering, “how does everyone else do it?” Podcasts, books, online courses… Everywhere I turned I found something new to work on in my own journey.

In the fall of 2018 I had about 30 interviews published on the podcast. I was getting comfortable travelling by plane, train and automobile, being invited into people’s lives to capture the Movers Mindset interviews. I was invited to the North American Art of Retreat, a Parkour leadership retreat, in the Cascade mountains outside of Seattle. There I did a series of interviews with the event’s presenters and organizers, and handed those recordings off for Art of Retreat to create their own podcast.

When 2019 rolled around, on a whim, I jumped into an Akimbo course called The Podcast Fellowship. I wanted to search for unknown-unknowns, to rethink everything I had done so far, and much about the Movers Mindset podcast changed in this period. To my surprise, I was invited back to be part of a small group of alumni who assist the coaches for the 4th, (and then the 5th,) running of the course. It’s mind-bogglingly inspiring and energizing to hang out daily with hundreds of people who share your passion. I even tried to summarize the fun of it in The Journey.

Meanwhile, the Movers Mindset episode numbers kept climbing and I’ve been branching out to interview more challenging guests; challenging for me as I’m forced to converse and discuss topics I know less and less about, but which none the less intrigue me endlessly. In the fall of 2019, this time with help from some of the Movers Mindset team, I was invited back to Art of Retreat. There, we did a second series of interviews for Art of Retreat’s podcast.

Today (circa 2020) I’ve done over 100 interviews… and I’m certain I still have no idea what I’m doing. We’ve started doing video interviews as part of the Movers Mindset project and I have two other, fun little podcasts where I toss up episodes all by myself. They’re both places for me to experiment on different bits of the podcasting universe without having to commit a lot of my resources or time. One podcast is a daily collection of micro-episodes. You can search for “Little Box of Quotes” wherever you normally listen to podcasts, and the related posts here on my blog are tagged, as you might expect, Little Box of Quotes. The other podcast is a collection of things of dubious veracity. It’s called “Apocryphal” and the posts on my blog are tagged—as you’d expect—Apocryphal.

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Big changes for 2020

For the past 5 years, I’ve been passionately working on a project called Movers Mindset. I’ve been particular about keeping it separate from “me”—in the sense that I would think, “is this idea something I want to put into Movers Mindset or on my blog?” (It sounds weird, I know—why didn’t you tell me years ago?) This led me to wind up with multiple “outlets”; this blog, public Movers Mindset web site and the Forum. As part of my continued efforts to simplify, we’ve taken down the Movers Mindset public web site.

* We didnt literally turn it off, but it’s just a static page about the project, and it powers the technology to make the podcast work. There’ll be nothing new posted there, and everything that was there will slowly appear in the Forum.

The entire Movers Mindset project grew from conversations I started having as part of my personal journey rediscovering movement. The project started late in 2015, under a different name, and it was initially simply a web site that shared others’ writing. The project grew, and in 2017 I started a companion podcast involving a team of people. In 2019 I created the Movers Mindset Forum. I’ve worked extremely hard, but none of this would have been possible without so much help from so many people.

The Movers Mindset Forum

Everything Movers Mindset does, everything we create, all the people who work on the project for fair pay—  Everything is made possible by people who value what we create and support our work by joining the Forum.

If you’re already a Forum member, thank you for your support.

If you do join the forum, you instantly gain access to everything. I hope you will consider supporting our work. To learn more, see  Welcome! Join the Movers Mindset Forum .

A note about “access to everything”: I’ve a tremendous amount of stuff to repost into the Forum. I’ll be chipping away at it, but it will take months as I work through it. If there’s something in particular you’re looking for, let me know.

Podcast

The Movers Mindset podcast is available wherever you normally listen to podcasts. Just search for movers mindset and you should be set. You can also find a listing of the podcast episodes in the Movers Mindset Forum. See the topics tagged “podcast “.

The public topics for each episode have only the show summary. Forum members can see the members-only Podcasts category where everything else is actually posted.

Thank you!

I hope you find my blog, the Forum, or the podcast interesting. Please consider sharing if you do.

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Nobody cares

More specifically it’s, “Nobody cares. Do it yourself.” This is a terrific splash of cold water from Jason Korman, (or maybe it was Hugh Macleod?)

I interpret this not as a pessimistic, “people suck.” But rather, a catalyst to, “simply start.”

Nobody cares in the same way one cares about one’s own projects and ideas. Obviously nobody cares like that! But why do we—ok fine yes I’m projecting my behavior onto you… Why do we look outward for the external validation? Certainly, the real world is the ultimate arbiter of truth. (As opposed to one’s thoughts.) But no amount of external data is going to create or destroy your true passion. If you have a project that you cannot put down because you’re passionate about it to the extent that it consumes your life, then whether or not you have external validation is irrelevant.

Do the thing. Make the art. It doesn’t matter that nobody cares. Do it yourself.

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No smiles

We left feeling sorry for the whole thing. The people who worked at the theater weren’t trained to know how to deal with the problem. They probably weren’t empowered to do anything about it anyway. The technical staff apparently doesn’t work on the premises. The guy at the box office wanted to help, but wasn’t granted the power to do anything. And the manager, who was last in the line of misery, to have to manually, and slowly, process dozens of refunds on his own. No smiles entered the picture.

~ Jason Fried from, https://m.signalvnoise.com/i-went-to-see-a-movie-and-instead-i-saw-the-future/

This is a delightful anecdote which highlights a key element of what we are doing in the Movers Mindset project. We are trying to stay closely engaged with the people we are serving. In order to do that, we can’t use fractured communications mediums (like Instagram direct-messaging, Facebook messenger, and so on) — there’s simply no way I would be able to interact with a meaningful number of people if I had to check a dozen different communication mediums every day. Generally, this is referred to as the Network Effect; the value of the network increases dramatically (non-linearly that is) as the number of people in it increases. So my maintaining (I don’t do this, but if I did…) my participation in many different networks would be needed to reach people.

Instead, I have focused on creating a functioning space where people of like mind can gather and communicate. The challenge is not that the network needs to reach a certain size to be “useful.” No, already one person there can interact with another person and get the full value out of that interaction.

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The Movers Mindset Forum

What is the Forum?

The goal of the forum is to facilitate self-improvement. In the forum we focus on movement as a mastery practice and highlight the processes of discovery and reflection. The forum provides the opportunity to interact with and learn from podcast guests, athletes, experts, and like-minded others.

https://forum.moversmindset.com/

Why the change?

We used to call it “the Movers Mindset community” site. There are some key reasons why we feel “forum” is a better word choice:

It removes confusion

While it’s not confusing to us on the team, there was a lot of confusion from everyone else who encountered Movers Mindset. I had to really pay attention before I realized this. People heard us say, “the movers mindset community,” and they were thinking, “the collection of people who are interested in Movers Mindset.” They were thinking community as in: The skate-boarding community. The parkour community.

When we said, “join the Movers Mindset community,” people’s first instinct was that we meant for them to become  interested in Movers Mindset, follow us on Instagram, or start listening to the podcast. None of that entices people to join a for-pay, members-only thing. Oops.

The word “forum” does not carry the same context as “community”; when people hear, “the Movers Mindset Forum,” or, “join the Movers Mindset Forum,” it stands out. Even if it stands out only because they don’t know what it is, that’s better than them thinking they know what it is, and having the wrong idea.

Forums are old-school

If by “old-school” you mean more considered, slower paced, and higher information density, then we’ll take that baggage because that’s exactly what the Movers Mindset Forum is meant to be. The work before us now is marketing the forum as interesting and useful, rather than a dusty old forum not worthy of attention. We think by stating a clear goal for the Forum and by stating what the Forum provides people, that it creates a meaningful opportunity that people will consider.

It’s simply shorter

I know this seems trivial, but it adds up over time. “Forum” is just that much shorter to have to include in URLs, and it’s two syllables shorter to say.

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Is movement an integral part of my life?

It certainly is an integral part of life, in general. But the vast majority of my life does not involve movement. I probably move more than the average American my age. I certainly moved a lot more in my 20s when I had a job that involved doing things. (Make this, move that, go over there, etc.) But today, movement is something that—I don’t quite have to make time for it, but I definitely have to be mindful of it. I generally plan to do something every day. Usually that’s a multi-mile walk, a leisurely bike ride, an hour wrestling with firewood, etc..

Over in the Movers Mindset community I’ve posted a poll about movement and work in an attempt to start a discussion about this. If you’d like to join me there, follow this link https://moversmindset.com/signup and enter coupon code craigsblog It will give you a free month; doesn’t even require your credit card at signup.

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Nice things or echo chamber?

Every once in awhile, someone steps up and makes something better. Much better. When it happens, it’s up to us to stand up and notice it. Which means buying it and consuming it with the very same care that it was created with.

~ Seth Godin, from https://seths.blog/2018/01/why-we-dont-have-nice-things/

I love the sentiment. But I believe it’s actually a Catch-22.

If I create something better—as I believe I have with Movers Mindset—and no one is interested in buying it with the same care, that also means that—by definition—no one else values it the way I do. This leads to Seth’s often talked about “dip,” where one needs to push through the suck from the initial peak of the thrill of the great work, to the second peak of success.

Anyone care to guide me on navigating the dip? How long should I spend in the dip creating work which I think is great, but which no one else values? Face-to-face, people love the project, but yet, no one is interested. No one is buying in.

Constant struggle. Endless frustration. If I was able to stop doing the work, I’d have stopped long ago.

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Movers Mindset Three Words

In each of the Movers Mindset podcast episodes, I ask guests to pick three words to describe their practice. Each guest’s choice has turned out to be a much more interesting and intriguing part of the conversation than we had initially anticipated.

The word practice goes beyond movement and often evokes broader images and ideas that reflect an approach to life. The idea that parkour and movement techniques in general are more than just physical has always been behind Movers Mindset. This is why I focus on ideas and reflection, for example, rather than on flashy videos of daring movement. The deeper dive into the mindset of movers is where the real magic happens.

That’s why I decided to do some introspection and pick three words that describe my practice. It was a challenge because reducing your practice to three words can seem like you are saying that the practice is nothing more than these three words, so you try to pick broad, powerful words to make sure you cover everything. Really, however, when you pick words that are too broad and too sweeping, you wind up not really saying anything specific that is unique to you. On the other hand, if you try to pick overly specific words, they may describe only one tiny part of your practice and give the impression that the scope of your focus is too narrow.

Picking three words is a challenge that I give to our guests, so it’s fair that I do it too. I found that capturing the essence of my practice in three words required a lot of introspection, and the act of choosing three words wound up being empowering. By going through the process, I now understand my practice more explicitly and am better prepared to describe it to other people. It’s not that I did not know the path I was following before, but now the path is clearer. It is easier to determine if a new project is consistent with my practice and vision, and this helps guide my choices in the overall direction of Movers Mindset. In general, I found the exercise to be challenging and highly worthwhile.  If you want the extra boost yourself, picking three words to describe your own practice is a good way to get started. It is a great way to discover things about yourself and about your relationship to the world.

This leads me to the first word: discovery. I wanted a word that involved starting with reality, with what we know about the world and about ourselves. I rejected observation because it is not active enough.  It has connotations of just sitting back and watching, listening, and taking the world in through your senses, but in a passive way. I also did not want a word like imagination or invention as my starting point, because these involve creating things. 

Generations ago when Benjamin Franklin confronted that fearsomely powerful storm driven on by his even more powerful desire to know—a desire that pushed him beyond the limits of anything humans had ever done—he was driven by the urge to discover, the urge to take action to learn what it was and what made it work. Franklin discovered that lightning was a form of electricity, but Edison invented the lightbulb. Discovery always comes first. Franklin pushed past the millennia of fear, the millennia of cowering primitive people who saw lightning as the tool and province of the gods—never to be understood, grasped, or controlled by humans. He uncovered or discovered its secret. By learning what it was, he took the tool of the gods and made it his own. He was not the first to discover facts about electricity, but his actions symbolize the process and the principle: boldly looking at reality, uncovering its secrets, and moving them from the realm of mystery and superstition to our realm of understanding and science.

Discovery is an active process involving interacting or experimenting with reality. You may not discover that you are great at painting, cooking, or singing until you try and observe the results. Often you will discover that you need more practice or that you need to master specific skills and techniques. However, without action, you cannot discover your strengths to move you forward or discover any weaknesses to be overcome. Discovery involves the honest looking at reality and the identification and understanding of what reality tells you. Your opinions, wishes, feelings, do not matter at this stage.  What matters is that you observe to the best of your ability, that you experiment, and that you see—with as much honesty and focus as you can muster—all that reality has to offer.

Discovery is not the end of the game; it is only the beginning. The second step in the process leads me to my second word: reflection. Discovery means you have learned something about reality and yourself. What should you do with that information? What does it mean? What do you do next? The answer is that you must think about what you learned. Why didn’t I pick the word thinking instead of reflection? Thinking is too broad in meaning for this context. While I am a big advocate of thinking in general and recognize it as the key to every successful human endeavor—without exception, my practice involves a particular type of thinking that is tied directly to reality and the facts I have uncovered about it. Reflection captures this meaning. A clear reflection in a mirror involves the accurate reproduction of reality.

As we think about things, we want to be careful that we do not go off course, that we do not imagine things that are not real or ignore things that are. We want to make sure that our thinking accurately reflects those facts about reality that we have discovered. Reflection is a type of careful thinking that takes each idea and connects it specifically to some fact about reality that we have discovered. There is nothing in your head to automatically guarantee that your thinking is correct. It is easy to go off course. It is easy to deceive yourself. It is easy to make the mistake that an early failure at a complex movement means that you will never master it. Reflection can protect you from such errors. If you fail in your first attempt, that is a fact, a part of reality that you cannot deny. So, the idea that you failed is valid; it corresponds to a fact you discovered. However, the idea that you will be bad at this every time you try is imaginary; you made it up. There is no discovery in reality, no fact in reality that corresponds to the notion that you will always fail. There is no reason to believe or to accept your imagined ideas when they do not reflect reality.

Reflection, then, is a type of self-check, a way of making sure that your ideas are validated by reality. Imagination can give you ideas about what you want to validate through discovery and reflection, but it leads to useful information only when the idea is tested. If you imagine you will always be bad at something, start testing your idea. Practice. Practice again and again. Discover if you get better or if you continue to be bad at it. Reflect on your progress honestly. If after a period of regular practice, you find that you still are no good at it, there is at least a possibility that you are right. Your conclusion has some support. But if you are much better now than you were when you started, that improvement supports the idea that you will eventually—with continued practice and diligence—get good at it.

Reflection also means holding a mirror up to yourself. Why do you like certain things? What makes you feel happy, successful, powerful or disappointed and sad? Why do you think you are good at something? How did you develop those skills? Reflecting on your strengths and understanding what worked for you previously helps you grow. Reflecting on the things that scare you and hold you back helps you develop the strengths you need to overcome those worries. When you reflect on your emotions, you discover ideas or premises that are the foundation of those emotions. This means you have the opportunity to reflect on those ideas and premises and test them against reality. Are they true or false? Do they correspond to reality or contradict it?

These two questions–Are your ideas true or false? Do your ideas correspond to reality or contradict it?–ask the same thing. Reality is the standard of right and wrong, of true and false. By actively reflecting about your ideas, your discoveries, your thoughts, and your feelings, you will eventually eliminate all contradictions from your entire life. You will reach a state where you see reality, and yourself in it, with full clarity and full understanding. The world has rules by which it behaves. Things act in a particular way. If you drop something, it falls. If you touch a fire, it hurts. If you act according to these rules, you will be successful. If you ignore the rules either by failing to discover them or by evasion, you fail. Acting in accordance with the rules of reality gives you a sense of self-confidence in your own ability. This leads me to my last word that captures this self-confidence: efficacy.

After practicing discovery and reflection again and again, you realize through experience that the world is knowable. You learn that you can discover it, learn its rules, and apply them successfully. You know that you have the power to validate your results along the way and correct any errors. Reflection gives you confidence that what you have discovered, is correct; your knowledge and conclusions are valid. Given enough time and effort, you know that you can reach any rational goal, understand any process, and check and refine your results thoroughly until you have the confidence of certainty. This mental state, where you know you can meet any challenge, learn anything, develop any skill, solve any problem is efficacy.

Efficacy is the power to produce a desired effect. Recognition of your own efficacy means that you have recognized your own potential for continued success and growth. Your choices of actions at this point are not based on concerns about current limits of your ability or understanding. Instead, your choices are guided by what skills, practices, and accomplishments will give you the most enjoyment, make your life better, increase your skills, or broaden your knowledge. Your experience in life changes from asking “What can I do?” to asking “What should I do to make my life the best it can be?”

The ancient Greeks had a word for this process of reaching your full potential: eudaimonia. I did not pick that as one of my three words, in part because it is even more obscure than efficacy, but eudaimonia was in the running. Aristotle wrote most extensively about eudaimonia, but it was important to many Greek philosophers. It is difficult to translate, because the concepts leading up to it are not widely understood in our culture. Few people today recognize that by understanding the rules of reality, validating them, and putting them into practice consistently, success is almost guaranteed—barring error or misfortune. Eudaimonia integrates these ideas into a process of living your best life. It is a continuous process of self-actualization where all the best conditions are in place: happiness, morality, meaning, purpose, the fulfilling of our special, unique potentials as humans. Efficacy is necessary to have the confidence to work toward eudaimonia.

Eudaimonia is more than just a final condition. It is the process of human flourishing. It is the process of doing those things that best help you function well as a human being at the highest level. My other two words, discovery and reflection, are both active processes, and I want to focus on the active process of developing and recognizing efficacy. Efficacy includes both being effective and recognizing that you are effective; it describes a self-aware competence in action. Eudaimonia is the goal, but recognizing and developing your own efficacy is how you get there and stay there.

Finally, I wanted three words that reflect my practice in terms of its essentials, but which could also help others find their personal path to success. The words had to capture the ideas of action and thinking, doing and learning–the Mover and the Mindset. They had to wrap up my process and philosophy in a way that captures who I am and provides value to the Movers Mindset audience. I think that discovery and reflection applied iteratively, building on previous knowledge and success leads to continued growth. Repeated experience with success and growth leads to a recognition of efficacy where you understand that you have potential to be successful in almost anything.

Activities that involve continuous improvements are often described as mastery practices. Mastery practices involve continuous improvement through discovery, reflection, and active practice with full recognition of efficacy. While mastery practices range from focused practices like law, medicine, martial arts, plumbing or carpentry, the most important mastery practice is living your own life to the fullest–reaching your full potential–eudaimonia. Since your full potential requires continuous improvement, it is important to develop the mindset–the set of ideas–that allows for this unceasing movement toward greater success and well-being. Discovery of this process, reflection to hone its accuracy, and development of efficacy are the steps that each individual must undertake independently.

Although your own path is unique, the principles involved are universal and can be learned from others. A goal of Movers Mindset is to bring these principles to light in an accessible way that encourages discovery and reflection while demonstrating and promoting efficacy in each individual. While you still have to walk the path on your own, under your own power and by your own effort, Movers Mindset hopes to make the path a little clearer.

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