I have a neighbor with a green thumb. Her garden is wonderful. It’s like the one in the film The Secret Garden, but in California. It’s full of flowers and trees like roses, maples and nasturtiums. With the flowers come humming birds, dragon flies and bumbles bees. It’s a beautiful place to just sit and be. Here’s what I’ve learnt from her style of gardening: Always be improving. Whenever she’s out in the garden she does a little weeding, clips a branch here and there, tames an unwieldy mint patch or waters a thirsty lemon tree. Maintaining her garden isn’t done once a week, it’s an ongoing labor of love. The result is a wonderful living and breathing sacred place.
It’s a good lesson for work and relationships. Always be clipping and making small improvements. Small improvements accumulate like compound interest – it starts to gain it’s own momentum. Next time you are mindlessly checking Facebook, stop and ask yourself a question: Instead of infinitely scrolling to nowhere, where could you be clipping, weeding or watering in your own life?
The hunger to satisfy and fulfill yourself dissolves the moment you change the question from ‘what can I get?’ to ‘what can I give?’
Ever gone on a long road trip? I've done a couple from San Francisco to LA. On long trips it's funny how the time between leaving San Francisco and the first couple of towns goes by in a flash. On any other day, heading down south from San Francisco to a meeting in a place like Palo Alto feels like the great trek. Distance is all relative. The same can be applied to learning a new skill, starting a new career, building a business, friendships or moving to a new city.
Seeing something as part of a grander plan makes me more patient and gets me out of the rush rush 'I need it all now' mindset. Change the scale and be patient. Life is a road trip not a day trip.
A good mantra for any day:
The universe is beautiful and just and perfect
My brother @socratixsw1 introduced me to a incredibly powerful deep breathing practice. It’s a relaxant after stretching or before bed.
Inhale for 5 seconds; hold your breath for 5 seconds; exhale for 5 seconds; when you’ve emptied your lungs, don’t breathe in again for 5 seconds; then inhale for 5 seconds. Repeat for 1 minute or 3 cycles.
5 seconds in, 5 seconds hold, 5 seconds out, 5 seconds no breath. Draw the square in your head – 4 sides of 5 seconds each.
Start out with 3 sets which gets you to 1 minute. The 3 sets will turn into 6 sets pretty effortlessly once you find your stride.
Don’t be afraid to trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right then pause and listen. I’ve made some of my biggest personal and professional relationship mistakes when I’ve tuned out my gut and intellectualized or rationalized the feeling that was telling me it wasn’t a fit or there was trouble on the horizon if I worked with the person. As I’ve become more secure and self confident I’ve learned to listen and muster up the courage to act when I get that feeling.
The feeling is primal and it’s the reason I’m here today. If my ancestors had ignored those feelings it could have meant death. Animals in the wild survive by tuning in to weather patterns, sounds smells, vibrations and unseen energy…they have a finely tuned sense for signal. When the tsunamis struck Indonesia in 2004, the animals were seeking higher ground long before the humans were. That’s because we’ve tuned out our primal senses that have kept us alive for thousands of years.
Don’t over intellectualize. Have the self confidence to trust your gut. That feeling got your genes this far and it’ll keep you in the game if align you with it.
‘The day you forget where you came from, you won’t belong where you are.’
– David Talbot’s Season Of The Witch
Nature abhors a vacuum. Just look at an abandoned building. Within a couple of months puddles of standing water start to form on empty concrete floor plates, mold grows on the walls, grass grows through the cracks in the sidewalk, window panes break and birds start to roost in the rafters.
When you stand still in life, nature finds a way to attach, draw you in and grow around you like a bougainvillea. It’s software is programmed that way. You sign a lease, you sign a cell phone contract, you make friends, your kids go to school etc. Nature’s software starts to operate.
Don’t be surprised if after a while you look down and realize you’ve planted in some random spot and are attached to all of life’s usual attachments.
If you are going nowhere then you’ll go nowhere fast.
It’s a lot easier getting into something than getting out.
Buying something is easier than returning it.
Hellos are easier than goodbyes.
Interviewing is easier than resigning.
Hiring is easier than firing.
Signing a lease is easier than breaking a lease.
Falling pregnant is easier than raising a child.
Dating is easier than breaking up.
Starting from scratch is easier than fixing something that’s broken.
Dropping bombs is easier that rebuilding a war torn city.
Life’s operating system is wired to make us commit to something. It’s not wired to help us make the right choice, it’s our hands on the tiller.
Momentum is a powerful thing, but be careful when it’s in the wrong direction. When it’s right, you’ll never look back.