Sycophant moats 

Some people surround themselves with a claque and never hear the truth. The politicians and celebrities who do this are easy to spot because they are under the klieg lights in the public domain. An objective observer sees it immediately. It’s cringeworthy because the people inside the bubble think it’s completely normal.

When the truth does catch up with them, and it always does, they refuse to believe it or melt down and replace the messenger with a loyal sycophant comrade.

A moat of sycophants creates an impenetrable reality distortion field. Truth is the only antidote. Don’t be an enabler. Speak truth to power or go spend your time elsewhere.

Live and work with people who hold you accountable, and are quietly confident enough to tell you the truth.

Leave something behind

Have you ever visited a place or spent time with a friend where you leave feeling invigorated and energized? Next time take a pause and reverse the flow. Ask yourself what you can offer instead of what you can take away. If it’s a place then be aware of how you keep it beautiful and pristine. If it’s a friend remember to ask how you can help or just keep quiet and listen.

Places and people that are permanently sucked on wither away, feel desolate and are tired. You can feel this with certain national parks. Well used parks are used over and over again and there’s zero stewardship going on. It’s super transactional. Take take take. Me me me.

Places and people have great energy because they are stewarded over time. It’s a give and take relationship. Places feel sacred for a reason. Giving is more energizing than taking.

Tough messy oak trees

Oak trees in the wild are messy things. Before I knew this I thought that oaks were these lone wolf sculpted trees with long clean trunks and a large canopy of round green foliage…kind of like the ones you see on a fancy wine bottle label. In reality a wild oak tree’s branches hang low and rest on the ground, sprawled out like a giant octopus. From a distance it looks like a big untidy bush and bramble. It’s all over the place. What I’ve since learned is that those tentacle like branches act as anchors for the tree and stabilize it in storms and heavy winds. That messy support structure is the reason it’s still standing and means it’s healthy. The human pruned, lone oak trees in the middle of a green field may look beautiful and statuesque, but they have a much high failure rate because they lack the stabilizing octopus support network.

It’s the same for humans. We are more resilient and stronger with a messy support network. Together we are stronger. Put down roots, build a community, lean on people, be vulnerable even if it’s messy. It’ll sustain you in the long run and it’s healthy.

Look for clues 

Listen to your gut when making big decisions. Be on the lookout for clues along the way. Clues are markers confirming that you are on the right path, or sometimes the wrong path. Be aware of your senses. Listen, smell, look, touch and taste. Maybe it’s an email, a chance encounter, a tweet, a news event or a change in the weather. Making a decision starts a sequence of events that are easy to spot when you start looking.

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

–  Ralph Waldo Emerson