Monday, August 29, 2011

Geometry and the "Whats" and the "Hows"

When I was in high school, I was a pretty good math student.  Unfortunately, I need my calculator to figure out the tip now, but anyway....I used to be an “A” student in this area.
I particularly loved Geometry because the answers seemed to fit so neatly in place if you could just figure out the right “formula” to use.  Once you found the right formula, you just plugged things in and it worked.  I loved the simplicity of it.
I had a very patient Geometry teacher who would put up with my daily ritual at the end of each class.  With no syllabus as in college, I asked the same question every day at the end of class, “what are we doing next, Mr. Saito?”
He would smile and, I guess because I was a good student (and I offered to be one of the only girls in the math club...mostly so I could make cookies for our math meets), he would tell me what was next.
I needed to know what was next....every day.  Now that’s a control freak, but it’s how I made things work.  The “what” was my goal of getting a good grade in the class.  The “how” was knowing what was next so I could read ahead and not be surprised by anything.  I never wanted to be caught off guard.
So, I read this piece that I have summarized below and it made me realize that in life, you might know the “what”, that is, your dream or vision or goal.  Most of the time, you don’t know the “how”.  You may think you do, but things always seem to surprise us. 
In a way, if you know exactly what’s going to happen, it’s not much fun.  It’s more secure, but it’s not real and it’s not living or growing.
Life is not Geometry and though that can make me very anxious sometimes, riding the waves, if you let yourself, can be a much more wonderful experience.

As Tara writes below, if you spend too much time worrying about the “how”, you may never get to the “what”.

The Whats and The Hows

Goals have "what-questions" and "how-questions." "What-questions" are questions like these: What is my dream? What do I want? What would be fulfilling, amazing, thrilling? Who do I want to be?
"How-questions" include questions like these: How will I get there? What is my strategy? How long will it take? How much money will I need? What resources, skills, or partners will I need?

In short, the what is about what you want to create. The how is about how you'll get there.

Here's what happens to many of us: the minute we start thinking about "the what" we get attacked by thoughts about "the how." That lovely, inspiring idea or dream strikes. We start thinking about it, painting the picture in our mind, basking in it, enjoying it. Then, the how thoughts descend--often in a fearful tone--and overwhelm us.

Put The Hows on Hold
Early on, "the how" is opaque, confusing. It is absolutely an unknown. Contrary to what we think, we need to tread into how-territory carefully and consciously, in order to protect our vision and inspiration.

Whatever how-questions showed up with your goals, try putting them on hold for a while. Just spend time with your vision.
For most of us, how-thinking, done too early, kills vision and inspiration. Baby dreams have a gestation period, and how-thinking is a toxic substance for them.

 When Is It Time to Move On to the How?

You'll know. It's time to approach the hows when you feel really connected to the what. When you do introduce how thinking, ask yourself two questions:
1.  Am I inviting in how-thinking or is it attacking me?
2.  What's the tone of my how thinking? How-thinking can be done with fear and worry, or it can be done from a place of commitment and creativity.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How to Move Beyond Fear

I think fear is one of the most difficult things to deal with and prevents us from making important changes in our lives.
The author below, Jonathan Mead from the Illuminated Mind blog, does an excellent job of discussing ways to rethink fear.
Sometimes I think about what I would do if fear wasn’t getting in my way. And the way I would be living terrifies me.
Throughout the evolution of my life and Illuminated Mind, I realize that when I was doing great things, I was nearly always scared.
Doing things beyond your known powers creates a deep sense of uncertainty. What if it doesn’t work? is usually the dominant thought circling through my brain. In fact, I can’t remember a time where this hasn’t been the case.
Sometimes I would let the fear keep me from doing what I wanted. But in most cases, I took action anyway. And somewhere along the way I realized that most of my fears weren’t based on reality, or even trepidation based on what I’d experienced in the past.
I started to learn that I wasn’t very good at predicting when something bad would happen.
With all fears, we think there are potential negative repercussions. If we take action or move forward, something bad might happen. So we stall, or make up all sorts of reasons why we can’t do it now. There’s always someday, right? (It seems that we act as if we’ll live forever.)
You can always wait until you have more resources, more confidence, more certainty.
But what if none of those things are getting in your way? What if you could do what you want, right now and nothing bad happened?
It’s hard to consider that thought seriously.
Every time I’ve taken a leap of faith, a net appeared. These days, I try to remember that I’m not very good at predicting what will happen, so I try to just wait and see.
The “smart” part of me wants to analyze the best course of action and come up with lots of reasons why I should wait, plan, or stall. Sometimes I listen. But most of the time I try to listen to the foolish beginner in me that doesn’t know what is or isn’t possible. He seems naive and dense, but he figures it out as he goes along, and everything turns out okay.