5-Step Road Map For Saying No

1. Remind yourself that time is valuable and once it’s spent you absolutely can’t get it back.

2. Ask yourself: “Would I be willing to do this thing tomorrow?” It’s easy to sign yourself up for something in April when it’s only September. Do your future self a favor and try this little exercise.

3. Respond quickly. Don’t leave people hanging once you know you’re saying no.

4. Own your “no” if it’s not a priority (because something else actively is): “Thanks so much for thinking of me. I’m not going to be able to take this on, but I wish you the best with X.”

5. Reframe your “no” to assuage your guilt (if it’s something you genuinely wish you had time for). Acknowledge that this commitment is significant to you, even if you’re not taking it on. A good sample script: “This is so important that it deserves someone’s full energy, and since I can’t do that because I have XYZ other things, I would be dishonoring the importance of this event/role/weekend getaway by saying yes.”

5-Step Road Map For Saying No

(via Recomendo)

Awkward

“Social skills are like any other kind of ability in that they require practice.” Smith writes in the latest edition of her newsletter, Inside Your Head. “And by this point in the pandemic, starved of normal, everyday social interactions — running into an acquaintance on the street, sharing an elevator with a co-worker, or making small talk with a barista — most of us are pretty rusty.”

We’ve already gotten kind of awkward. But over the next few months, with even fewer chances to practice being social in person, we’re all about to get super awkward.

We’re All About to Get a Lot More Awkward

5 Levels of Communication

Level 1: Ritual
Level 2: Extended Ritual
Level 3: Content (or Surface)
Level 4: Feelings About Content
Level 5: Feelings About Each Other

Interesting read: Richard Francisco’s Five Levels of Communication maps out a series of “levels” that represent increasing degrees of difficulty, risk, and potential learning in our interactions.

Water Has Three States

“Water has three states, but you know, not really only three—clouds, fogs, mist, rain, and many others. A rainbow is related to water. Our bodies are 70% water, and our planet is also 70% water on the surface. We’re almost like a puddle of water. As you know, those different states of water can look very beautiful, but sometimes they can be very violent, like a tsunami.”
– Ryuichi Sakamoto

I Miss My Desk

“Even more importantly, desks enable collaboration. To be at your desk is to be present, in the world, at a place in time – to be available for an impromptu brainstorm, feedback session, or gut check. That face-to-face cooperation brings a human touch to our work that can’t be replaced by all the Slack messages, Zoom calls, or Google Docs in the world. It’s why (at least during normal times) so many freelance professionals choose to pay for a desk in a coworking space. With others around it, a desk becomes more than a desk; it becomes a community. Desks are how we interface. The things placed, whether carefully or incidentally, on their surface – the books, tools, decorations, pictures, half-eaten salads, and unopened mail – serve as ambient communication to co-workers about our lives.”

I Miss My Desk (and So Should You), by Brandon Lori

Self-directed, Project-basedLearning

“We now have a chance to turn this fall’s back-to-school (in the Northern Hemisphere) into self-directed, project-based learning instead of a rush toward compliance and butts in chairs and pencils on tests. Shipping the project, proving it works and then doing it again. Learning by doing. Self-direction unlocks our ability to contribute for a lifetime, whereas preparing for the test ensures that we will always be at the mercy of the person who is giving the test. People are not entitled to their own facts–and understanding helps us discover the ones that matter.”

Self-directed, project-based learning, by Seth Godin

Exit To Community

“If you’re forming a startup, there are generally two kinds of stories to choose from about what the startup is for. Keep in mind that startups are companies that are trying to take over some subsection of the world. It’s ambitious stuff, so they tend to take on lots of early investment. They get somebody to give them a lot of money so they can hit the market with disproportionate force. And in order to pay that investment back, they need what’s called an “exit,” which usually comes in two forms: You’re either acquired by a larger company or you go public, selling your company on a market where people can trade your shares based on their speculations about what it’s worth. In both cases, you’re passing the company that you’ve worked to build off to new owners, who in turn might be buying it just to convince future buyers to pay even more for it later. It’s a weirdly normal pyramid scheme of capitalism.

What if there were another way? What if a startup that successfully builds a community could opt for an exit to ownership by that community?”

This is a fascinating read: Exit To Community, by Nathan Schneider

Water Has Three States

“Water has three states, but you know, not really only three—clouds, fogs, mist, rain, and many others. A rainbow is related to water. Our bodies are 70% water, and our planet is also 70% water on the surface. We’re almost like a puddle of water. As you know, those different states of water can look very beautiful, but sometimes they can be very violent, like a tsunami.”
Ryuichi Sakamoto

Ambiguous Loss

That means reckoning with what’s called ambiguous loss: any loss that’s unclear and lacks a resolution. It can be physical, such as a missing person or the loss of a limb or organ, or psychological, such as a family member with dementia or a serious addiction.

“In this case, it is a loss of a way of life, of the ability to meet up with your friends and extended family,” Boss says. “It is perhaps a loss of trust in our government. It’s the loss of our freedom to move about in our daily life as we used to.” It’s also the loss of high-quality education, or the overall educational experience we’re used to, given school closures, modified openings and virtual schooling. It’s the loss of rituals, such weddings, graduations, and funerals, and even lesser “rituals,” such as going to gym. One of the toughest losses for me to adapt to is no longer doing my research and writing in coffee shops as I’ve done for most of my life, dating back to junior high.

“These were all things we were attached to and fond of, and they’re gone right now, so the loss is ambiguous. It’s not a death, but it’s a major, major loss,” says Boss. “What we used to have has been taken away from us.”

Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful, by Tara Haelle

Good Trouble

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
John Lewis

Interracial Friendships

“You don’t get to pick your family of origin or the place you grow up. But you do get to choose your friends, and those choices say something about the kind of world you want for yourself. This is one of the many ways friendship is political. We’re not just talking about whether you have people in your life who voted for the opposite party or whether you’re carpooling to the protest march with your friends. We’re talking about small-p politics, or “the total complex of relations between people living in society,” as the dictionary puts it. White people can’t be surprised that white supremacists are marching in the streets if their own lives are racially segregated. The choices that each of us makes every day about who we include in our lives end up shaping the larger world we live in.”

There’s a Divide in Even the Closest Interracial Friendships Including ours, By Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman

A Love Letter to All the Overwhelmed White People Who Are Trying

“Of course I knew I was white, just like you do. I just didn’t consciously identify myself that way. Maybe it’s because it felt like it was unnecessary to acknowledge, or because it felt like the default, or because it felt embarrassing for reasons I could not yet articulate. But before that day, “white” was in the silent backdrop of how I defined myself, and then, the day I went viral, something shifted. I suddenly saw my own race as important, as having meaning, meaning that I had yet to fully understand.”

A Love Letter to All the Overwhelmed White People Who Are Trying, by Melissa DePino

Calling-In versus Calling-Out

“…

Call-outs make people fearful of being targeted. People avoid meaningful conversations when hypervigilant perfectionists point out apparent mistakes, feeding the cannibalistic maw of the cancel culture. Shaming people for when they “woke up” presupposes rigid political standards for acceptable discourse and enlists others to pile on. Sometimes it’s just ruthless hazing.

We can change this culture. Calling-in is simply a call-out done with love. Some corrections can be made privately. Others will necessarily be public, but done with respect. It is not tone policing, protecting white fragility or covering up abuse. It helps avoid the weaponization of suffering that prevents constructive healing.

Calling-in engages in debates with words and actions of healing and restoration, and without the self-indulgence of drama. And we can make productive choices about the terms of the debate: Conflicts about coalition-building, supporting candidates or policies are a routine and desirable feature of a pluralistic democracy.

…”

I Think Call-Out Culture Is Toxic, by Loretta Ross

Make Good Art

“Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do.

Make good art.

I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.”

Make Good Art”, by Neil Gaiman

Questions to Consult For Major Purchases

Next time you buy anything, ask yourself these questions:

1. Can I work around the problem with a repair, modification, or change in use?
2. If I buy this, what else am I not buying?
3. Can I afford this?
4. Will this item help me do things I can’t do now?
5. Will buying this item significantly increase my enjoyment of X?
6. How often will I use this in the next year? In the next five years?
7.Will this item become obsolete in the near term?
8. Is this item repairable?
9,Do I really need ‘the best’? What is a good second choice?
10. Can I buy something used that will do the job?
11. Am I supporting a business I know and like? Do our values align?

From this article: Buy less, do more with good enough gear.

(via Dense Discovery, currently hands-down my favorite newsletter)

Period of Hibernation

“We talk about this lockdown as a period of hibernation, as being dormant. But perhaps we’ve never been more woke than right now, more cognizant of a system that normally keeps us too busy to demand better.”
Kai

Accepting Love

“I have a theory—based on my experience interviewing thousands of people—that we humans are able to achieve wholeness and well-being in direct proportion to how we receive love. Not how the love is given, but how we are able to process and accept it.”

“I believe love when it comes in. It’s one of the most profound revelations I’ve ever heard. Love is all around, showing up in small offerings and dramatic encounters and everyday gestures. But we can’t receive it if we’re fixated on finding it in a package called “parent” or “husband” or “lover”—whatever label fits the story you’ve told yourself.”

How Oprah Taught Her Daughters From South Africa to Accept Love

I Work From Home

911 OPERATOR: 911—what’s your emergency?

ROBERT: Hi, I . . . uh . . . I work from home.

Read the full New Yorker post, I work from home, by Colin Nissan. Funny.

A Heart-Centered Body of Work

“The point of it all is not to exhaust myself trying to build a body of work that eclipses my life, but to create a heart-centered body of work.”

Holley M. Kholi-Murchison

What does time well spent mean to you? Resources to help you reflect.

The “Immediacy Filter”

“One of the most useful bits of advice I ever got, came from the writer Anne Herbert who said that whenever she got an invitation to do something months away or even a week away, she asked herself whether she would accept the gig/meeting/task if it was tomorrow. The answer was often no. I use that immediacy trick all the time, and it has served me very well.”

Kevin Kelly

How we spend our time…

“How we spend our time is how we spend our days. How we spend our days is how our life goes. How our life goes determines whether we thought it was worth living.”
— Keith Yamashita

Keith reflecting on his relationship to time. Wonderful.

The Difficulty of Being in the Present

“Much of what ruins the present is sheer anxiety. The present always contains an enormous number of possibilities, some hugely gruesome, which we are constantly aware of in the background. Anything could theoretically happen, an earthquake, an aneurysm, a rejection – which gives rise to the non-specific anxiety that trails most of us around all the time; the simple dread at the unknownness of what is to come.”

The Difficulty of Being in the Present

Two-Mountain People

“The basement of your soul is much deeper than you knew. Some people look into the hidden depths of themselves and they realize that success won’t fill those spaces. Only a spiritual life and unconditional love from family and friends will do. They realize how lucky they are. They are down in the valley, but their health is O.K.; they’re not financially destroyed; they’re about to be dragged on an adventure that will leave them transformed.”
— David Brooks

Thank you Jocelyn for reminding me of one of my favorite reads of 2019: Two-Mountain People

Emotion As A Currency for Remembering Content

“According to numerous studies, emotion is a basic currency for remembering content. A listener must connect emotionally to what they hear in order to remember what the speaker says. Simply, we remember most vividly the events in our lives in which we were most emotionally impacted.”

Do You Need Charisma to Be a Great Public Speaker?, by Sarah Gershman