As a way to introduce you to my view on the world, I turned inward and explored the question, "how do I approach each day?"
What came out of the session was a set of principles that embody my philosophy towards life, work, and the world around us.
Everything I do from coaching and advising to creating and collaborating is fueled by these principles. They are core to my work and concepts I strive to live by every day. I use them to keep in touch with who I truly am and who I aspire to be. Should I ever stray from them, I know it's time to hit pause, step back, and spend some time getting introspective.
My hope is that they will show you a little more of who I am, how I approach the world, and what it's like to spend time with me.
1. Question everything
The world we live in is full of people conforming to the status quo.
Everywhere you look people can be seen surrendering their
“Because I said so”, says the parent.
“That’s the way things work around here”, says the colleague.
“A good idea in theory!”, says the boss.
Each of these statements takes your ideals, visions, and desires, and sacrifices them in the name of the status quo. Ouch!
“Long live the norm!” they proclaim as they go on living in their bubble of comfort while the world continues to accelerate and move ever closer to a place of complacency and conformity.
Sadly, this is the way people operate in many modern societies. People have become so comfortable with the way things are that any possibility of change and disruption to the norm is seen as a threat, even when the net outcome would have widespread benefits and positive effects for many.
It’s for these reasons that I believe in questioning everything around me.
I strive to question my assumptions, question my behaviors, and question why things are the way they are. I believe that questioning “the way things are done” is such a simple thing to do, yet rarely done by those with the power to make the necessary improvements. So, I've taken it upon myself to exercise my creativity by wondering, questioning, and learning as much as I can about why I believe certain beliefs, function with certain processes, and operate with certain principles.
Everything can change, but only when we begin to question the norm and challenge conventional thinking.
2. Never stop learning
The North Face had it right with “Never Stop Exploring.” A beautiful brand tagline that fuels their purpose, products, and marketing.
I believe the same, but decided to shift it a bit and hone in on learning as a core principle that propels us forward.
Learning how to learn is perhaps the most important skill a person, team, or organization can develop. Once you know how to learn, you can then focus on choosing what to learn. At that point you are in a position to go out there and challenge conventions, explore new ideas, experiment with new behaviors, and work your way into
Learning is such a critical skill because it helps us develop our worldview and see things from new perspectives. Whether we’re gaining new knowledge or skills, or expanding our horizons and perspectives, learning is the key to critical thinking, problem solving, and leaving things better than you found them.
Learning can set you free.
3. Seek to understand
Every person on this earth has their own unique story. There are ~7.7 billion humans on the planet, which is quite a bit of diversity.
Oddly enough, the world beyond my nose is vastly different from the way I was each brought up to see it. As such, I believe it’s important to actively and continuously expand my worldview by striving to understand people, their behaviors, and the reason things are the way they are.
We talk a lot about the status quo, and that’s because it is the de facto norm for collective attitudes, behaviors, and mindsets. It also informs the processes, policies, and perspectives that contribute to our individual behaviors and our organizational operations.
Whatever role you play in this world, and whatever work you’ve chosen to take on, you are surely interacting with other people, and potentially serving them in some way. But do you really understand the people with whom you interact? Do you understand what drives and motivates them to behave the way they do? Do you understand why a policy exists, why a process is a certain way, and why you’re afraid to leave the support systems that come with a salaried 9-to-5 job? Do you understand what's incentivizing each person to make the choices they do?
Only by seeking to understand can we truly learn the reasoning behind people's motivations, needs, and behaviors. And from there, you’re able to meet their needs and better serve them, whether they’re a customer, friend, community member, or anyone else.
4. Believe in humans
While it may be a challenge to believe people are inherently good, I have not lost faith in our collective humanity. Sure, the millennia before modern times were pretty dark, gruesome, and cruel, but I like to believe that human beings have the capacity to be good people who positively contribute to society—once they learn how.
It may be easy to cast aside people as ignorant, stupid, or bad, but I choose to see the good sides of people, and believe that most people on this earth are doing the best they can to live their lives in peace and harmony with others.
Potentially too idealist, but I'm choosing positivity anyway.
As such, I strive to make all my interactions with people full of kindness, warmth, and gratitude. Not only is that how I would like to be treated by others, but I see it as my duty to treat others with respect and equality, and approach them from places of love, kindness, and dignity.
It’s my way of putting good out into the world and hoping that my positive imprint on others will lead them to operate from similar places of positivity.
5. Work together
While history shows the competitive cutthroat mentality of sports, robber barons, and extreme individualism, I believe that collaboration is the key to creating equitable futures for all, so I do my part by choosing to work alongside people as equals instead of viewing situations as “us” and “them.”
Whatever imprint you wish to leave on this world, it is my belief that your true potential will be realized when you let go of the individualist mentality and embrace the mindsets of collaboration and partnership, as long as they're rooted in integrity.
After all, you’ve probably heard the age old saying,
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Sometimes you’ll want speed, and other times you’ll want distance. It’s perfectly OK to shift between alone and together.
But when it comes to growing as a human, leaving things better than you found them, and positively changing the world, I believe fully in power of the collaboration and co-creation.