Get out of the way

This is why “culture” in business matters. Because it allows people to see whether or not they’re allowed to cut the metaphorical knot.

~ Hugh MacCleod, from

I was recently asked, “What’s the hardest part, for you, about podcasting?”

Staying out of the way.

I’ve spent so much of my life diving in and fixing things, that it has become my first instinct. To rush in and grab the controls. To attach a sense of artificial urgency to everything. To become frustrated that others aren’t immediately taking action now that a solution or idea has been found.

Certainly, an important step is to first cultivate a team who can do great work. But once that’s done enough, the hard part for me is staying out of their way.

Many people would say that I value action over thought. This is absolutely not the case. I am driven to find evidence, to investigate, to look for previous examples of similar solutions and ideas, to gather data, to analyze, to sort, to organize, to imagine… and then I act— often frenetically.

It is right before that last step that I’m learning to self-intervene.



Get out of the way.


Waiting for the next one

What, I can experience an entire trip to the mall without sighing, grimacing or silently cursing? I can sit through an entire red light without fidgeting? I can make (or miss) my connecting flight without losing my shit even once? Can I live my whole life this way?

We can, if we’re willing to give time, as a habit. Nothing else makes sense really—it’s just experimenting with a willingness to live in reality as though there’s nowhere else to be. (Not that there ever was.)

~ David Cain, from

Occassionally I get the urge to attend a week-long, silent meditation retreat. (For example,ā retreats.)


Because sometimes I experience small periods of blissful serenity. I’d particularly like to be able to go there on a more regular basis. It seems to me that spending about 10 days doing nothing but meditating in silence would be a delightfully mind-altering experience.

Rarely, but with increasing frequency, I find myself enjoying sitting pefectly still. Doing perfectly nothing. Paying attention to the moment instead of being completely obliterated by an endless torrent of thoughts. Eventually a thought which I deem worthy enough arises urging me to go do this, or check on that, and I rise from my glimpse of serenity.

I always wonder what would happen if I just kept thinking: That’s not quite worth getting up for just now, I’ll wait for the next thought.



Today, it’s alarmingly easy to find yourself antler-locked with some remote, faceless person who’s trying to tell you that universal healthcare is a communist plot, while you’re waiting for your potato to finish microwaving. This facelessness turns up our impulse to argue even more. You may have noticed it’s a lot less pleasant to argue with someone when you can see their eyes.

~ David Cain from

I find it, in fact, so unpleasant to argue with people that I’ve effectively given up the effort entirely.

The first phase comes of self-reflection once you think you might—at least some of the time—be wrong. The second phase comes when you realize that your sometimes-wrongness might apply to the interactions with other human beings. Phase three is when you wonder why it is important to change the other’s mind. Phase four is when you stop judging people at all.

This has the side effect that you also give up trying to get people to stop arguing at you. If I don’t argue, then the other person assumes their idea has carried the argument, when in reality I’m focused on how delightful my iced tea is, or the weather.

I’m reminded of the ages of roots, fire, water and air that I mentioned a few days back; Once you start flirting with the age of air, the only person left to argue with is oneself.