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    begin again

    In many ways, today is my new year. It's time to stop and reflect on the lessons learned and also to launch and continue some of the plans that I began last summer. Lucky for me, spring is here to inspire me in the tending, mending and minding phase that creates those little sprigs of new growth and innovation.

    Last year was filled with powerful ups and downs. One of the most repetitive lessons was about being true to myself - authentic. After an epic streak of fails, I finally began to get traction on relearning listening and trust for my instincts. And in a few critical moments, I was even able to support that knowledge with action.

    It's always fun (in a spiritually geeky sort of way) to unpack our own unconscious behaviors. By doing so, it makes us more powerful in our work lives by helping us recognize when these invisible beasts are operating in our companies and colleagues.

    The ego, unconscious, reactive mind has quite a few tricks. The reptilian portion of our brain is always looking for danger. Once identified, it begins to line up all input to support its conclusion and assessment of the situation. Fight, flight and/or freeze behavior ensues. When a tiger or hot stove is in front of you, this is helpful behavior. When your boss is, this black and white view of the world – these reactive assessments of the situation - lead to simplistic and often deeply counter-productive decisions and behavior.

    As I step out and reflect on what is operating for me when I don't blog I start to recognize a few trends.

    Scary people gambit
    My unconscious mind went back to old behavior from the days when I struggled with being socially awkward and overwhelmed by people. The lizard brain began to look at people as untrustworthy and scary. What if they don't like what I write? What if it's wrong? This is a classic case of going after approval from outside of myself.

    In my conscious mind, I know that I have an unspeakably supportive and interactive UX community. When or if they don't like it or disagree is often when the most far-reaching learning happens for me. It's a good thing. And if I get really honest, they rarely disagree; they simply expand my understanding based on their own experiences. Awesome!

    It needs more work
    This is a great one. This thought originates from the underlying worry that "I'm not good enough." Believing and seeking support for this thought leads to all kinds of spectacularly crazy behaviors including trying to control everything.

    The reality is that I write every day - output isn't the issue. In my quest for control, I overshot and began to second-guess everything that I wrote. Time to use my conscious mind more effectively and put in a little courage along with my editing and strategic assessments of what I share and communicate. Everything is always in process. And isn't that my deal – we're all making it up. Time to find the balance.

    I'm too busy gambit
    I don't even need to unpack that one. Julia Cameron lovingly points out the fallacy of this little internal lie in her book "The Right to Write," when she asks if you ever sit in the bathroom during your day. Hey, look, time to write ready made in your day.

    The reality is that there are tons of stray minutes in the in-between of our days. The issue is not the actual time but whether we're able to discipline ourselves to use it to continue our process. One of my active goals is to "be quiet and do my own work." This is me finally doing that quietAction. Go me.

    begin again
    So, with this post, I re-commit myself to using this blog as a way to communicate what it is that I do and to try things out. It's time to get back to play, throwing things at the wall to see what sticks and mud pies. I look forward to the conversation.

    Reader Comments (6)

    Thanks for this. There are so many times when I have those what if they don't like it thoughts, those it's not good enough yet whines and those I'm too busy excuses. The funny thing is though, when I actually do end up posting something or finishing that project and sending it off to the client, not only do I feel better, but I am often surprised by the feedback I get. Here's to letting go of all those outside approvals and being quiet and getting the work done as you say. The reality is no-one is really watching and people usually are usually very impressed with your output. I know I am my own worst critic and sometimes that is good, but the balance in letting the good enough show most often is the key.

    I'm in your corner and I think you are amazingly talented, smart and special. You go beginning again!

    March 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Barnes

    Those are all thoughts we live out, aren't they? So glad to hear you're in there working them and getting stuff out the door. As you're pointing out practice is the key with overcoming that kind of unconscious behavior. The first step is always recognizing the craziness.

    Thanks for all the support. SEE brain, my community does rock!

    March 8, 2010 | Registered CommenterMair Dundon

    I'm always inspired by you. You express yourself so beautifully. I look forward to your new postings and projects. I too hope to play more this spring. It's such a good thing to just be oneself and not be so judgemental. Why does this have to be so difficult?!?

    April 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLauren Turetsky

    It does seem odd that we don't come out of the package knowing how to be kind to ourselves and everyone around us. I can only guess that if we didn't, we'd miss out on all the fun of squishing along with everyone else and learning how to live that way. Thanks for all the encouragement and support. Looking forward to seeing your play as well. Gotta love the circular inspiration of having fabulously talented friends and colleagues.

    April 4, 2010 | Registered CommenterMair Dundon

    I think you are a philosopher, MD, in a web suit. What neat thoughts. I love the concept of a spiritual geek. So great!

    April 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGCB

    You are very inspiring. You always make people look on the brighter side of life. You let people believe in themselves again and again. Great job.

    December 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterplumbing

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