The Thing About Barney

He sat at the bar, a Guinness to his left, next to a neatly stacked sheaf of paper. With an expensive looking pen in his hand, he wrote. Longhand. Slowly. Deliberately. With care. From time to time, he would stop and appear to ponder and reflect, sip from his Guinness, and write some more. A letter clearly; to whom, I couldn’t say.

He wasn’t more than 30, clean cut, nicely dressed. But this behavior… so aberrant; so weird!

No tablet. No computer. No smartphone.

Just a pen and some paper. (And a Guinness.)

So jarring to us was this sight that we called him over to our table as he was leaving the pub.

Barney was his name.

Barney was a visitor to our little village in Co. Cork. He grandfather had bought a place some 50 years ago. And Barney liked to come to enjoy the solitude, he said.

“And what about this (weird) writing thing?” I inquired.

“I like how it feels,” he said. “I like how I get to really think about what I want to say. I love that it takes time. And that it goes off in the post; and someone gets to open it and hold it in their hands and read it.”

We had a wonderful conversation with Barney on those lost arts of writing and connecting and deep communication that have been subsumed by email and text messaging.

Barney is a rarity (an oddity?) indeed.

There is a never-ending, ever-growing panoply of methods to communicate what you’re doing and how you’re feeling at any given moment.quotescover-JPG-27

I am a lover of technology. It allows me to live and work and serve my clients anywhere in the world I might be. I don’t want to be a Barney. But I do want to connect powerfully, meaningfully and deeply. And that’s difficult to do when we’re always on.

It is the great paradox of connection: That more hyper-connected we are, the more scattered and fragmented and disconnected we become.

So here are some recommendations on how to reclaim a sense of well-being, without resorting to being a Barney:

  • Pick a primary mode of communication. Unless you live in a little village in Ireland and have no clients or business interests to serve, it won’t likely be the post. But there is nothing more disconcerting to have a chain of communication that starts as a message on LinkedIn, continues as an email, and then morphs into a series of texts or Facebook messages. Putting aside the “paper trail” necessary in business communication, this is just crazy making and an invitation to error. You teach people how to treat you and how to work with you. Teach them a way that leaves you sane.
  • Be deliberate. Just because your technology allows you to communicate instantly, doesn’t mean you have to. You can take the time, like Barney, to slow down, to think and reflect on exactly what it is you want to say. It’s ok to step back, allow the dust to settle, formulate your thoughts, and get clear on your desired outcomes.
  • Don’t check your email (or smartphone) constantly. On average, folks check 150 times a day. There’s a huge time cost to doing this. Recent research suggests that we are interrupted (or interrupt ourselves) every 3 minutes of the day; and that it takes at least 11 minutes for us to refocus, to re-attend to the task that we were doing. If this is true, not only do you have the sensation, the feeling, that you can never catch up, you actually never really do!
  • Don’t check your email first thing in the morning. Your email inbox is someone else’s agenda for your day. If you are clear on what you value most and what your high value targets are for your day, do those things first. No one dies if your email waits until mid-morning.
  • Go off the grid. Experience what is like to not be hyper-connected. Connect with yourself; connect with those you love. Have a tech-free dinner; a tech-free weekend; maybe even a tech-free vacation. Talk! Read, write, reflect. Reclaim that still point within you. In that stillness is your power.

Our businesses and our lives rise and fall on our relationships. And as humans, we are hard-wired for connection. But real connection doesn’t happen in a 140 characters or via Snapchat.

I don’t want to be Barney. But he’s definitely onto something.

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Are you ready to become more deliberate with your career, your business and your life? Let’s connect. Really connect. Email me: walt@walthampton.com

I Almost Needed An Enema

We prescribe the medicine all the time to our clients: Take regular breaks. Take time off. Take your vacations. All of them.

You’re not a machine. You can’t go 24/7/365.

You can’t focus on your work to the exclusion of everything else.

You can’t stay at the net responding to constant expectations and demands, responding incessantly to emails and text messages and notifications and alerts.

You can’t play full out day after day without a break.

You wouldn’t run a high performance car for 10,000 miles without a pit stop; without changing the oil; without switching out the tires; without letting the engine cool.

Except that’s what way too many of us do.

Because busy has become a badge of honor. Busy means something. Busy means that we’re important; that we’re significant; that we’re  indispensable.

We buy into the cultural lie that to be successful, we need to be busy; that we need to work more; that we need to work longer, harder, faster; and that to do otherwise somehow means that we’re weak or not motivated or not a team player.

We are a culture of people who’ve bought into the idea that if we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us,” Brené Brown suggests.

Because to stop opens up an existential abyss.

Who are we really if we are not doing and achieving?

So we keep going. Like hamsters on a wheel.

Because we are afraid to stop.

And the collateral damage is huge.

We lose the capacity to create space for ourselves.

We lose the capacity to sit still, to be still, to know the beauty and the grandeur of the here and now.

We lose touch with that place of quiet, that still point within us.

We lose the capacity to be: To just be.

So the medicine to stop is a critical component of our well being.

Not only because it is essential to peak performance (indeed, peak performers in the arts, entertainment and athletics often focus on their work for only 4 or 5 hours a day); but even more important because it is necessary for a life that is rich and full and joyful.

But, as we discovered once again, how challenging it is to pull out of the habit of busy.

Just another week; or another quarter, we told ourselves.

There are clients to serve, coaches to train, books to write, workshops to teach,

What will we miss if we go off the grid? What balls will we drop? Who will we disserve?

We stayed at it for far too long. Months without a meaningful break.

Dishing out the medicine with reckless abandon; and not taking it ourselves.

Until exhausted and depleted we finally did. (And thankfully without resorting to any unnecessary means of prescriptive application.)

We’re on our bicycles in the south of France. Staying in cozy ancient villages. Eating bread and cheese; and drinking wine.

Reveling in the open space.

Feeling the wind and the sun.

Soaking in the quiet.

Connecting with one another; and with ourselves.

So that we can come home again rested and renewed to the do the work we love.

“How are you doing with your medicine?” he asks, reminded and chastised.

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My call to action for this weeks blog: Don’t email me. Just stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take Out Your Trash

For nearly three decades, a dear friend of mine was a flight attendant on a major airline flying long-haul routes. He would tell this funny story: At the end of an especially long, customer service-challenged flight, when they would come down the aisle for that last time with the garbage bags, saying “your trash, your trash,” what they were really thinking (and actually saying), was “you’re trash, you’re trash!”

This post is not about the joys of flying. It is, however, about your trash. Your head trash, that is.

Because, your head trash is what keeps you stuck; it’s what keeps you from launching your business, writing your book, advancing your career, getting in shape, finding a mate, speaking your truth; it’s what keeps you from sharing your gifts with the world; it’s what keeps you from living your very best life.

Your head trash are those voices in your head that whisper to you: Screenshot 2016-05-11 17.23.03

  • I’m not ready
  • I’m not enough
  • I’m not worthy
  • I need more training
  • I need more experience
  • I need a degree
  • I need another certification

And no one escapes them.

Tony Robbins suggests that the two primary questions that every human being struggles with are: “Am I enough?” and “Will I be loved?”

Brené Brown, in her beautiful book, The Gifts of Imperfection, says that every single one of us comes face to face with self-doubt; that every single one of us questions our worth; that no one escapes that worry that someone will find out that we are a fraud.

So… recognizing that you’re not that “special,” that you’re not alone, that every single one of us struggles; every single one of us confronts these fears and doubts… the only relevant question then is this: What are you going to do now?

Even in the face of fear and doubt: What action will you take? What commitment will you make?

The time will never be right. You will never feel ready. There will always be more that you could do.

But the clock is ticking; and the world is waiting for you.

Don’t waste another moment.

Step up. Step out. Get busy. Start now.

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Want to get started? Let’s connect. Email me: walt@walthampton.com

About My Beans. And Your Beans.

As I get near to my birthday, I think a lot about beans.

About how many I have; and how I want to use them.

I am acutely aware that I have a limited supply of beans.

I want to be mindful about my beans. I never want to squander them.

Because my beans (and your beans) are precious.

How many beans do you have?

What would you do if you only had a handful of beans?

What if you had just one?

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Are you wondering about what to do with the beans you have? Let’s connect. Email me: walt@walthampton.com