How We Do Anything Is How We Do Everything

HOW WE DO ANYTHING IS HOW WE DO EVERYTHING

I was on a flight not that long ago and witnessed something that got me thinking. We had landed and started to deplane from front to back. Row by row each aisle began to move to the center, grab their bag, and exit the plane. Par for the course. We were near the back of the plane and I was in the window seat, so I naturally just observed for several minutes until the line had made its way back to me. Anyone that’s ever flown knows that it’s not a free for all when you exit a plane. There’s a natural order to when you exit, and everyone follows it. Row by row, front to back. This process provides order in what could easily be a chaotic situation. As I sat there watching I noticed a guy a few rows behind me grab his bag and start cutting his way past all of us that were still waiting for our aisles to exit. Instead of keeping to the order of things, he maneuvered his way past any and everyone and made his way off the plane. This naturally bothered me, but what followed was more frustrating. Because this one guy had done it, multiple people on the plane followed suit, and proceeded to barge their way ahead skipping past the aisles of people sitting there. What was order one moment, was now chaos. All it took was one guy to make it acceptable for 10 others to do the same.

I don’t know the guy on the plane who started that mess. I couldn’t point him out in a crowd if I had to. But this minor thing that he did that day got me thinking about how that extrapolates out into the rest of his life. No, cutting the deplaning line is not a very big deal in the grand scheme of life. But oftentimes the little things we do and decisions we make shed light into how we operate as human beings. See, the things we do, whether big or small, don’t operate in isolation. They are a part of one mind, one person, and are more often than not a reflection of our lives as a whole. When we treat others poorly in one area of our life, what’s to stop us from treating people poorly in another area?

There’s a famous commencement speech that was given at the University of Texas by a Navy SEAL admiral. The entire speech is gold, but one thing in particular stood out to me. He tells the new graduates

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” 

He goes on to talk about how completing that one small task makes it easier to complete the next task and the next task and the next task. But his larger message was this – if you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. This message is simple yet profound because it affects all of us. How we do anything is how we do everything. Have you ever hit the snooze button one too many times and it negatively affects almost the entire rest of your day? How we do anything is how we do everything. Have you ever said one line of gossip just to find yourself casually having entire conversations about others? How we do anything is how we do everything. Have you ever found yourself skipping one workout that turns into skipping an entire week? How we do anything is how we do everything.

That guy on the plane could have been, and likely is, a decent human being. I don’t have any insight beyond the minute or so that I watched him create his own exit plan. But I know if it were me in his shoes, if I were the guy cutting people off just to exit a minute or two sooner, that small thing would be a larger reflection into the rest of my world. I’d find it much easier to flip someone off on the highway. I’d find it much easier to leave a 10% tip because my fries were too crispy. I’d find it much easier to have one or two too many drinks. We get to choose the person we are every single day, and it starts with the little things – how we choose to treat others in seemingly meaningless interactions, the foods we put in our mouth with each forkful, the words we choose to say with each breath, and whether or not we decide to make our bed each morning. Because how we do anything is how we do everything.

On Defining Ourselves

ON DEFINING OURSELVES

There is a subtle bad habit in life that can be the difference in happiness and sadness, contentedness and discontent, joy and sorrow. This subtle habit, like most habits, is so small that it largely goes unnoticed in our day to day lives. Yet the awareness and action to change the habit can dramatically improve the way we view ourselves, our lives, and our futures. What is it?

It’s the bad habit of defining ourselves by what we aren’t, instead of what we are.

This habit can be so built into our language that we may not realize we’re doing it.

The best sales rep in the company has another great month.
“I’m just not as good on calls as they are.”

A good looking guy or girl walks by.
“What I would give for their body / hair / legs / insert any attribute.”

A friend posts pics of their beautiful family, epic vacation, or idyllic house (or likely all 3).
“They’re just so perfect, while I sit here single in my apartment dreaming of a beach vacation.”

I could go on and on but you get the point. In a world where our favorite means of communication is a bright screen that happily filters all of the bad stuff from people’s lives, never has a society struggled more to feel like they can’t keep up.

We are not defined by what others have that we don’t. 

We are insanely, utterly, and beautifully awesome because of what we do have.

We are funny.
We are witty.
We are clever.
We are beautiful.
We are giving.
We are caring.
We are secure.
We are free.
We are a friend.
We are a brother.
We are a sister.
We are a mom.
We are a dad.
We are alive for another day.
We are…ourselves.

It doesn’t matter what other people have that we don’t. There will always be someone smarter, stronger, faster, wealthier, prettier, happier, and better. But just like a lion is not defined by its lack of stripes, nor are we defined by our lack of anything.

We are defined by what we have, not what we don’t.

Pain Is Permission

PAIN IS PERMISSION

Pain is probable. Pain is powerful. Pain is permission.

Pain from loss is permission to embrace empathy.
Pain from defeat is permission to stand back up.
Pain from ego is permission to practice humility.
Pain from an enemy is permission to forgive a friend.
Pain from regret is permission to gain wisdom.
Pain from betrayal is permission to perpetually trust.
Pain from a love lost is permission to love again.
Pain from disappointment is permission to hope.
Pain from gossip is permission to hold your tongue.
Pain from death is permission to breathe life into others.
Pain from darkness is permission to be light.

I said pain was probable. I lied. Pain is guaranteed.

This pain can be paralyzing, or this pain can be powerful.

It’s up to you what you attach to it. Pain can be debilitating. Pain can be discouraging. Pain can be detrimental.

Or pain can be permission. Permission to rise above. Permission to be a better version of you. Permission to prosper.

Shrink or grow. Sink or swim. Retreat or revive.

Pain is permission. The question is what are you giving your pain permission to do?

On Framework

ON FRAMEWORK

Did you ever build a house for Habitat for Humanity growing up? It usually involved a group of people – maybe it was your classmates, or your basketball team, or your Boy Scout troop. You’d drive to the future home site of someone in need, get an orientation from the project leader, and start building. If you were one of the early people on the project, you’d be there for one of the first stages – the framing of the house. There’d be two-by-fours, nails, nail guns, measuring tape, and more. Piece by piece the wood would come together, and eventually you’d have the frame of the house in front of you. There’s two things that happen after that framework is installed:

  1. It shapes and dictates how the rest of the home is built.
  2. It is hidden from view once the insulation, drywall, and rest of the house is built over it.

This house is no different than the lens that we individually see the world through each and every day. The world as we see it is entirely shaped and dictated by the framework that we have built it upon. And this framework is an accumulation of the beliefs that we have built over time regarding, people, the planet, life, death, and the meaningful or meaningless fabric that holds it all together.

A simple example is religion. Whether you were raised Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, or anything in-between, this framework has shaped your view on the world. It has shaped the value you place on life and people. It has shaped the meaning you attach to certain objects and symbols. It has shaped the reason for your days above ground. And not only that… it also shapes how you process every bit of information you receive or knowledge you gain from this moment forward. If you learn something new, you find a way to fit it into your existing belief system, thus not just shaping your past beliefs, but also shaping any beliefs you come to in the future.

Framework. Shapes. Everything. 

The trouble with framework is that much like the house, we can’t see it, and we largely forget it’s there after everything else has been built on top of it. Underneath all of us are thousands of two-by-fours, providing the framework for our beliefs about ourselves and our lives, placed and nailed one by one by our parents, our teachers, our peers, and eventually ourselves.

Do you have something in your life that you want to change?

Do you have a belief about yourself that is negative or hateful?

Do you have bitter thoughts about the world and the people in it?

Do you have something, anything, in your life that is eating you alive everyday?

Before you buy some self-help book on a Barnes & Noble shelf, before you spend time and money at some therapist’s office, before you spend one more day wondering “Where did I go wrong?”, ask yourself:

What is the framework that is shaping my beliefs right now?

Part of taking ownership over of your life, and I mean complete ownership for the good, the bad, and the ugly, means taking full ownership of the beliefs and framework that is shaping it. When you take a look under the drywall, there’s a good chance some two-by-fours need to be replaced. I know because I’m replacing my own all the time.

On Satisfaction

ON SATISFACTION

The origin of a word can many times give us valuable insight into lost meaning. Over centuries of translations and mutations, many words become softened and blurred in order to better fit a language or context. Accompanying that softened or expanded definition is the loss of a lesson that was tied to the original highly intentional creation of the word. The word “satisfaction” is a great example of this.

“Satis”   Latin origin meaning “enough”
“Facere”   Latin origin meaning “to make or to do”

Enough action. Satisfaction is a word that today is simply tied to a feeling of contentedness or happiness. It’s fluffy, it’s arbitrary, and it’s somewhat meaningless. But when we uncover the root of why this word was originally created, it was very distinctly tied to action. So if the feeling of satisfaction is what we’re after, maybe the answer to achieving it has been hiding in plain sight the entire time.

Enough action.

Where are you not satisfied in your life? Is a specific relationship stressing you out? Is your job leaving you unfulfilled? Do you have dreams or goals that aren’t being achieved?

Whatever area of your life you’re currently unsatisfied with, ask yourself if you’re putting in the necessary action to change your situation. There’s a good chance you’re not.

Enough + action = satisfaction.

We often learn language and words without ever learning the context of their creation. Yet when you think about language, if you were to create a new word this word would have a very specific, tangible reason for its creation. It would have been created out of necessity. And that necessity is where the lesson lies.

The wisdom we seek has been espoused for centuries upon centuries, and sometimes we just have to look a little harder to find it.

What can you take action on today that will lead to satisfaction tomorrow?