On Suffering (and Pre-Suffering)

I wrote this in May 2014 …

What do we do with this?

I also loved this from a more recent blog post on suffering. Jonathan Parnell wrote the post but the quote is attributed to The Pipes.

Suffering is nothing more than the taking away of bad things or good things that the world offers for our enjoyment — reputation, esteem among peers, job, money, spouse, sexual life, children, friends, health, strength, sight, hearing, success, etc.

When these things are taken away (by force or by circumstance or by choice), we suffer. But if we have followed Paul and the teaching of Jesus and have already counted them as loss for the surpassing value of gaining Christ, then we are prepared to suffer.

The part that is crushing, to me, is that little two-word phrase at the end of the parentheses.

By choice.

I’m not sure if I’d rather adopt this attitude and thus, lifestyle, or be able to write like Rutherford (The Great King keeps his wine there…!) but there was a whole host of destruction in the depths of my heart when I encountered these words.

I hope there was in yours, too.

On Leadership

I feel confident that I am good at a handful of things. I do not feel confident that leadership is one of them. This list of 16 lessons learned in leadership was an eye-opener to me, and all of them are great.

Probably 5-6 really popped though, and maybe none more than this one.

Limitations force leaders to make choices. Whether you lead a team of two or 2,000, you cannot, and should not, do everything. Refer to your vision, values, and strategy. What is central to the mission? Memorize and protect those things. Don’t let the good eat the great. Rehearse and guard your priorities. [TGC]

I have struggled not just to point to our mission in the sphere of places where I lead but sometimes to even know what that mission is. Same for vision, values and strategy. Something I want to get better at as I lead into the future.

On Growing Platforms

I saw this — ironically? — on Twitter this week, and I thought it was really true and also really encouraging. Something I certainly need to be more wary of in my own life. And I think I’m talking more about the studying another’s excellencies than studying my own infirmities.

More From Read-Aloud Family

I loved these two quotes as well.

C. S. Lewis says it best: “Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.”

That Lewis quote could not possibly be more true.

Catherine’s experience helps prove that reading to our kids teaches them to think, make connections, and communicate. Reading aloud doesn’t just open windows. It flings wide the doors of opportunities far outside the scope of language and literature.

The single most important thing (to me) to teach our kids is to understand how to communicate well, have self-awareness and be able to make connections. I can think of no better medium than reading aloud.

The Read-Aloud Family Notes

I recently stumbled across a book called the Read-Aloud Family. It’s intriguing so far, and I’ll probably be posting quotes from it on here intermittently. Here are three that hit me early on.

Trelease advocates reading aloud to kids especially when they can read for themselves. He goes so far as to say that if teachers and parents experience a shortage of time and can’t fit in reading aloud, they should “steal [time] from other subjects that are not as essential as reading, which includes pretty much everything else.”2

Read-Aloud Family

I LOLd.

So as a mother and as a writer, let me urge you to read to them, read to them, read to them. For if we are careless in the matter of nourishing the imagination, the world will pay for it. The world already has.  -Katherine Paterson, A Sense of Wonder

Read-Aloud Family

I read aloud to my kids because I know that my years with them are short. Because I long for a deep, soulful, real connection with each of them. And because I hardly want to spend these precious years waiting for the walrus, missing every ant moment while I wait. When my head hits the pillow each night, I want to know that I have done the one most important thing: I have fostered warm, happy memories and created lifelong bonds with my kids—even when the rest of life feels hard.

Read-Aloud Family

The Difficulty of Lifelong Learning

I often find that the throwaway stuff of smart people (or maybe just the setup stuff) is the stuff I end up remembering. Like this from Seth Godin about lifelong learning, which was just setting up something on lifelong community.

Lifelong learning is never finished, and achieving the mindset isn’t easy, because the existing bias toward competence makes it socially unattractive. It requires us to acknowledge that we don’t know enough on our way to learning more.

Seth Godin

This part has stuck with me: because the existing bias toward competence makes it socially unattractive.

We want to be good at what we do, and we’re scared to be bad. But we were always once bad at anything we’re now good at which means we either embraced how bad we were or displayed extraordinary confidence (arrogance?) in whatever discipline that was.

Tillinghast on Talking Too Much

As I prepped for the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, I came across something from one of Bethpage’s original creators, golf architect A.W. Tillinghast. He was asked to rank the best courses in California, of which he had built many, but he declined.

With thanks I must regretfully decline this opportunity to lead with my chin. Although I have formed conclusions I would consider it extremely bad taste for one, so long associated with course designing and construction in the East, to make any comparisons. 

Tillinghast.net

But here’s the money quote.

As I grow older I appreciate the fact that for general publication there are some questions that need a whole lot of letting alone.”

Tillinghast.net

How often would I be helped by adhering to the idea that “there are some questions that need a whole lot of letting alone”? The answer: very often.

On Friends

I recently read this post on the movie Tolkien, and while the entirety of the post was about fellowship, the part that caught my heart was about friendship. It was this beautiful introduction to what the actual piece was about.

The film keenly observes the specific circumstantial alchemy that gave rise to the languages, landscapes, and longings of Middle Earth. But it also observes the general human need for kindred spirits, comrades-in-arms, cohorts to spur passion and purpose, friends to live and love and die alongside.

TGC

On the Socioeconomics of Social Media

I thought this on the future of social media and how we might differentiate socioeconomically was so fascinating.

Odell believes that this sort of change will nonetheless reverberate, that it will revive support for noncommercial public spaces that benefit everyone. “If you can afford to pay a different kind of attention, you should,” she writes.

Newport quotes the comedian Bill Maher, who, two years ago, on his HBO show “Real Time,” said, “Checking your likes is the new smoking.” In the past year, both Twitter and Facebook have faced waves of bad press. For all its current ubiquity, social media might someday occupy a status akin to cigarettes, which are peddled as a pleasure and a relief to the lower classes but which élite Americans largely attempt to avoid. [New Yorker]

Maybe Mike Gundy was right.

Thinking About Thinking

Thinking about thinking sounds like the name of a ridiculous self-help book that would (maybe I should be embarrassed to say) greatly interest me. It’s actually the thesis of a recent post I read that doubles as one of the most important things you, creative worker, or your organization can do.

But few organizations think seriously about thinking, which, after all, really is the fundamental value-producing activity in knowledge work, just as divine communication was the metaphorical money-maker for the pious medievals.

The monks were on to something. Concentration is hard work. It requires, for lack of a better word, more serious attention. [Cal Newport]

I *try* to block off parts of my week just to think because I believe it to be one of the most valuable paths to working smarter (not harder) and probably the biggest way I can add value to my own work and the work of the people around me.

You need friction to come up with new ideas and modify existing revenue streams, yes, but you also need time to think about how exactly you want to implement or build those into your workflow.