Check Your Attitude at the Door

There was a movie made in 1991 called “City Slickers,” starring Billie Crystal and Bruno Kirby.  It was your basic buddy movie, built around the idea that three guys would get away from their lifeless existences each year by planning an elaborate adventure vacation.  To sum up, when the Billie Crystal character returned home after the most recent adventure, his wife greeted by saying, basically, if you want to quit your job, go ahead.  To which he replied “No. I’m just going to do it better.”

Sometimes, in spite of all the advice we’ve been dispensing for three years now, you find yourself stuck in a rut.  Whether that’s in a job, or a relationship, or whatever, you realize that you don’t enjoy what you’re doing and you don’t particularly care, and you just want out.

And sometimes, you’re right.

But sometimes the problem has nothing to do with the job or the relationship–it has to do with you! 

So before you go making wholesale changes in your life, the sorts of things that cannot be undone, make absolutely certain that the problem is not in you.  Maybe you don’t need to do something different . . .

You just need to do things better.

the Gurus of Get It

Published in: on October 17, 2011 at 11:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Be Open To Surprise (from Samuel Barber)

The other day we were listening to one of our favorite pieces of classical music: the “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber.  People of our generation are probably most familiar with this piece as it was one of the central musical ideas in the 1980s Vietnam War movie “Platoon,” but the piece stands on its own exceptionally well.

The piece starts very quiet and pensive, and gradually grows in drama and dissonance until all the strings are practically crying out in anguish, until it resolves in a powerful, satisfying consonant chord.  And then silence.

Yes, right after the high point, silence. A rest. And then a quiet return to the original themes.

We remember the first time we heard that piece and what a shock to the system that sudden silence was, and how completely profound that moment of “non-music” was to the performance of that piece of music. The surprise and satisfaction of that use of “negative sound” was awesome. Nobody puts a piece of music on to hear how the performer uses silence–but the best ones really know how to do it!

Now, we know that not everybody gets as excited about classical music as we do, but there will be similar moments in your everyday that can have the same effect.  You glance into a grove of trees you’ve seen a million times, but just once you see a baby deer walking through; a family goes by you in the grocery store, but this time you look close and see that a small child is busy taking care of his infant sister; a pile of leaves drifts by on a breeze, but this time you pause and catch the faint scent of a burning fire.

You will always be able to find great things when you set out to look for them.  But we think the world is a far more interesting place if you try to keep your mind open for the beauty of moments unlooked-for. 

The Gurus of Get It!

Published in: on October 10, 2011 at 10:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Past as Prelude

There’s a scene in “The Lion King” in which the wise baboon, Rafiki, confronts Simba about running away from the past.  To make his point, Rafiki, hits Simba on the head with his staff.  When Simba asks “why’d you do that?”, Rafiki laughs and simply says “What difference does it make? It’s in the past!”  To which Simba replies “Yeah, but it hurts.”

The past has no power over your life other than the power that you give to it.  If your past is filled with bad memories or bad choices, then it is likely that the past still contains some pain for you.  But what difference does that make?

As Rafiki points out, you have two choices: keep thinking about the pain, or learn from it, and move forward.

Your history is what made you who you are today–the good, the bad, and the ugly.  If you are in a position where you are trying to take control of your life and move forward (by doing things like reading this blog) then you have obviously come to a pretty good place.  Accept the lessons your life has dealt you and use them to push yourself forward, but don’t give them any more power than that.

The Gurus of Get It

Published in: on September 18, 2011 at 12:09 am  Leave a Comment  

The Physics of Your Life

We wrote last week about the ‘flywheel,” which, once set in motion by a lot of energy, stays in motion.  This operates on one of the central tenets of Physics: a body in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted on by an external force.  Once a body is in motion it has a degree of momentum, which creates inertia.

Your life has its own inertia.  The choices you make, the things you put your energy into, tend to set you in a certain direction.  If you’re smart, that direction is a good one, and you find yourself gradually getting closer to your objectives.  If you’re foolish, that direction could be just about anywhere.

The great part is that Physics teaches us that you can change your direction if you don’t like it.  The not-so-great part is that changing directions–changing inertia–requires a new and sometimes extraordinary input of energy on your part.  Sometimes that energy is simply sweat and hard work; sometimes it will be psychic energy, as you try to deal with yourself in new and honest ways; and sometimes it will be purely emotional energy, as you disentangle yourself from destructive patterns and relationships.  Probably it will require some combination of the three.

But rest assured, change will not happen without you acting.

The Gurus of Get It!

Published in: on September 2, 2011 at 11:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Challenge: Pull Your Weeds

One of the things we find most frustrating about yard work is the ever-irritating presence of weeds in the lawn.  Especially in an odd summer like this, in which one month was the rainiest on record, and then this month is the hottest on record, it seems like the only things hardy enough to survive the erratic conditions are the weeds.

And, to be fair, some of the weeds actually can  be attractive to look at (the kids in particular love dandelions), and you have to give them credit for survival. Sometimes they even start out innocently enough, and so it’s easy to overlook them early in the season.

The problem is that weeds grow, and weeds don’t share well, so as they grow they steal all of the resources of the lawn and systematically kill whole sections of the lawn.

Yep, you guessed it–another metaphor!

Your life has plenty of weeds in it, too.  For some it’s a “friend” who does nothing to feed your ambitions but instead drains your energy; for some it may be a bad habit or an addiction; for others it may be a hole in your training or an emotional impediment to moving forward. Whatever the case is, kill it!  As soon as you see and recognize that weed, you have to act to get it out of your life. And it may take a few tries to make it happen.

But the alternative is a dead lawn of dreams.

The Gurus of Get It

Published in: on August 30, 2011 at 12:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Keep Turning the Flywheel

A flywheel is a mechanical device that requires a great deal of energy to alter it’s rotation.  Thus, from standstill, it is very difficult to get moving, but once it is moving it provides for more motion than you would have otherwise thought it would.

Your Plan may resemble the flywheel in a lot of ways.

We have been there–the amount of energy it took us to get from “hey, wouldn’t this be a useful thing . . . ” to actually starting to put coheerent thoughts together  in the first skeletons of the Get It! book was substantial.  The way we wrote the book (late at night when both our families were asleep) and the learning to mesh two individuals into a cohesive creative unit took some major adjustments on both our parts.  But once we figured out how to deal with those two issues, the book started writing itself.  There were many nights that we would start with a snippet of an idea, and three hours later it had not only grown into a major section of the book, but it had done so while fitting in to our overall scheme like a puzzle piece.

Whatever extraordinary investments of energy or psychology you have to make at the beginning of a project should never deter you from pursuing a Dream.  The flywheel will start–trust it, and then ride the momentum!

The Gurus of Get It!

Published in: on August 25, 2011 at 10:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Along the Lines of Foresight

No battle plan survives contact with the enemy–Moltke, then Colin Powell

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face–Mike Tyson

No matter what your Grand Plan for achieving your Perfect Life, the “real world” is going to have an effect on it.  Events sometimes spin completely beyond your control, conditions change, and your Plan may not be feasible beyond Step One.

That’s okay.

The best way to approach this reality is, strangely enough, a two-step process.  First, you have to over-prepare.  Your Plan should be thorough enough and have taken into account enough variables that when reality blows it up, it’s almost as if you saw it coming and did not leave the important stuff to chance.  This “over-planning,” oddly enough, is exactly what is necessary to allow you to adapt and improvise as the circumstances demand it.

Secondly, even though you’ve put a lot into it, you cannot be rigidly tied to your plan.  You have to be able to let go of the specifics of the Plan in order to maintain progess through the Plan.  Many people become paralyzed when the real world throws them a curve, because they refuse to let their Plan be a dynamic set of instructions. You have to be able to roll a little.

The Gurus of Get It!

Published in: on August 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

What is Your Passion?

We were reminded of something today, something that we haven’t spoken of in a long time. 

You have interests and Passions and skills and talents for a reason–they are no accident.  There has ever been, and will ever only be, one YOU.  Therefore, you must conclude that there must be a reason you have certain Passions.

How do you know what a Passion is? We think the easiest test is the “disappearing clock” test: when you’re working on something that you are really Passionate about, you will find that you can look up from your work and notice a strangely stiff neck out of the blue and that time has passed without you being aware of it.  Somehow, working at a Passion just feels natural and right.

But most importantly, choose   to pursue that Passion!  If you’re lucky and smart, that Passion will somehow translate into a job, so you can spend 40 hours a week (or 50 or 60 . . . ) working at it and getting paid for it (!); but even if that isn’t the case, you can still be diligent in pursuit of a favorite hobby. And who knows? Many great enterprises have started as great hobbies (see: Stewart, Martha).

When you spend your days acting on your Passions, your days will have meaning and purpose, which will add up to weeks of accomplishment which will become years of personal fulfillment which will result in a life of significance. 

Accept nothing less.

The Gurus of Get It!

Published in: on August 14, 2011 at 11:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Note On Style

There will be those who disagree with this idea, but we thought it was worth putting out there, nonetheless.

“Ta da!” says the doctor to the magician as he cures the magician’s illness.

“Never say ‘ta da!’ Don’t speak for the magic! If the trick was good enough, it will speak for itself; if you have to say ‘ta da,’ then the trick must not have had enough to say on its own.”

This philosophy does not hold in all situations, but we believe that how you do things is just as important as that you do things.  So when you have the opportunity to let your work speak for itself . . . do so!  There’s no real advantage to trying to punctuate something great with a “there you go–wasn’t that cool?”  That starts to fall into the category of “tooting your own horn.” 

This is not to say don’t lay claim to your work or your ideas–if there’s some question of authorship, always step forward.  All we’re saying is that it may be better sometimes to let others talk about your “trick” for you.

Of course, that puts the pressure on you to make sure that your work “has enough to say on its own.”  That’s a topic for many other days . . .

The Gurus of Get It

Published in: on August 10, 2011 at 11:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Climb Your Mountain

We love the mountains.  Living in Colorado, we get plenty of opportunities to get up out of the city and experience the world in its rugged, natural state. 

We’ve discovered, however, that not everybody loves hiking around in the mountains.  For some, the mountains are an infuriating prospect, because just when you think you’ve climbed the toughest hill, or gone around a bend to the perfect vista, the mountains throw a new hill  or a new obstruction in your way.  We like to say that climbing mountains is less an act of strength than it is an act of will.

Also turns out that mountains make wonderful metaphors.

The challenges you face, whether they’re ones you sought out or just ones that appeared to you, are just like mountains.  You can put your head down and start the climb, or you can stare at the path in front of you and think of all the reasons why you shouldn’t keep going.  And even when you’re able to talk yourself into going, there’s almost always going to be a new mountain just around the bend.

What you have to decide is: are those challenges a matter of strength/talent/knowledge, . . .

. . . or are they a matter of will?

The Gurus of Get It

Published in: on August 6, 2011 at 12:47 am  Leave a Comment