There’s a collection of things that I intended to return to at some point. An inbox with flagged messages dating back to 2013. Folders with articles and scraps of papers and clippings from newspapers and magazines. All of it held my interest long enough for me to say, “I’ll return to this.” And yet, the stream keeps coming and revisiting any of it seems, at best, questionable.

And yet, there’s the possibility that something in there will spur something here. So I hold onto it.

Some book I read suggested that you should keep a tickler file, containing those things of interest to you that you may want to return to someday – given you have the time. Just make sure you make the time.

Taking it slow

Some things are meant to be fast. Races, for one. Even given the wisdom of “slow and steady…”, one must have the speed to win a race.

Manufacturing relies on the fastest possible systems to create the best possible good. When speed increases result in a decrease in quality, they know they’ve gone too far.

But other things are better, even only enjoyed, if done slowly. I’m reminded of the Japanese tea ceremony, which can clock in at about four hours.

Speeding it up would ruin the ceremonial aspect of it. It would be sipping a Lipton Brisk purchased at the Circle K. It wouldn’t be the same.

So when pushing through to the finish, be sure to ask yourself whether this would be better served by taking it just a little slower.

First steps

The first step, my son, which one makes in the world, is the one on which depends the rest of our days. – Voltaire

There are many first steps we take. Every day is a first step, if we let it be. Don’t hold yourself back. Don’t be the only block to your success, your future, or your happiness.

The rest of your days depend upon that first step.

Carpe Diem

Some people wake each morning ready to face whatever the day may hold. Others dread even getting out of bed in the morning.

It all comes down to outlook.

“In India, there’s an old parable about a wise king who sent two of his court officers away to explore faraway lands. One of the courtiers, the king had observed, was arrogant and self-absorbed; the other was generous and open-minded. After many months of travel and exploration, both men returned home to report their findings. When the king questioned the men about the cities they visited, the generous courtier said that he found the people of foreign lands to be hospitable, generally kindhearted, and not much different from the people one met at home. On hearing this, the arrogant officer scoffed with envy, because the cities he’d visited were full of scheming liars, cheats, and wicked barbarians. Listening to these reports, the king laughed to himself – for he had sent both men to the same places.”

The challenges will come

When facing inevitable challenges, you are entirely in control of how you act. We often feel powerless to make decisions, but the decisions are entirely ours to control.

I’ve left several jobs – some better than others, but all poorly-fitting – and had no plan in place other than leaving. Most would call that foolish. But I believed that something better waited around the corner, and rather than sticking it out hoping, I made the decision to go and find it.

When you feel stuck, look again. You may have more control than you realize. At the very least, you have a choice that you can make, whether you believe it is possible or not.

Missed opportunity

How many opportunities do we squander? How do we recognize an opportunity when it comes along? How many chances do you think we get?

Being ready for an opportunity means to have everything in place. “Success is 90% preparation, 10% perspiration.”

When opportunity knocks, you have to be ready to answer. You can second guess yourself, but it’s better to do it approaching opportunity than running from it.


This above all

In Hamlet, Shakespeare writes, “To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not be false to any man.” In this line, the first step to integrity is being true to your own inner voice.

There’s a corollary in Toltec wisdom, according to Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: “Be impeccable with your word.” That this is the first agreement written seems important, as the other agreements spring from being true to your word, and to your self.

It’s not always the easiest path – being true to yourself. Many people throughout history have been labeled crazy, odd, or other equally derisive terms for not following norms. But norms are norms because they are the average. By that very definition, there must be people on both sides of the average.

Norms are societal agreements; common acceptable behaviors. But they had to begin somewhere, and what is common now may have very well been uncommon before.

It’s okay to be yourself. In fact, it’s preferable to be yourself, rather than someone else. “This above all, to thine own self be true.”