Recently, I’ve started listening to Brian Koppelman’s podcast called “The Moment.” I got into it because he has done four episodes with Seth Godin…which you should download ASAP.
Despite my love of things Seth Godin, the more important thing that has come out of my listening to Brian’s podcast was the idea of morning pages that he talks about pretty regularly.
If you aren’t familiar with morning pages, you can check out Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, for a full description of the concept behind morning pages and why they are important.
The key idea is that they act like a clearinghouse for all the garbage floating around in your head before you start the day.
Tim Ferriss talks about catching the monkey mind on the page in his blog post about his morning practice, which I found pretty helpful in developing my own practice.
Why do I bring up some hippy idea like journaling this morning?
Because I have found that this practice has helped my own writing and creativity.
I say this not as an anecdotal thing, though it is, but also as something I’ve been able to measure by the time spent hemming and hawing before I write something or work on something. Which if I were to take a stopwatch to my day, I’m sure I would find that the time savings has been in the hours. In just the first few weeks of going through the practice.
I’m not going to spend too much time on the morning pages themselves because there are many more resources that you can find by searching on the google machine that will give you all the information you need about the practice.
What I do want to highlight this morning is changing your story and the way you approach your work because I think that the best thing that the morning page practice has done for me is that it has allowed me to change the narrative that I tell myself and it has allowed me to acknowledge a lot of the stupid, negative voices that might act like sticks in my bicycle tires.
In the first Koppelman podcast with Seth Godin, Seth talks about how a lot of times we are married to the stories we tell ourselves and that these stories are often a form of hiding from the real work we need to do. As I reflected on that idea, I had to agree.
To place it in the context of what a lot of us are dealing with, we might find it hard to create change in our organizations because we don’t have the support we need or our ideas aren’t given the respect that we think they deserve.
This is likely always true.
The thing for us is that we have to recognize that most ideas aren’t going to just be hugged and kissed and allowed to take root right away, even if they are the greatest ideas ever.
The one great idea myth is what stops a lot of us from getting over the hump.
It is a story that we tell ourselves so that we can keep moving or we don’t have to confront the fact that our idea might not hold value.
Or, that we are focusing our idea on the wrong application or the wrong area.
Let’s use one example here.
We’ve seen Major League Baseball’s attendance shrinking a lot over the last few years and we see situations where the ratings will jump for short periods of time, but when MLB’s leadership offers up ideas to improve the game and attract a new set of fans because they have a rapidly aging fan base, most of those ideas are on the gimmicky side or the side that looks at the game like you are ridiculous for not loving baseball as much as they do.
Those are stories that they are telling themselves to avoid the real work.
The thing is that they have an aging fan base, not because of millennials, though they are convenient punching bags, but because they have spent the better part of two decades gouging their customers at the Major League level, not doing a great job of promoting the sport at the grassroots level, and allowing other sports to capture the country’s imagination.
Which means that by telling themselves a story of short-term fixes to their problem, they can avoid the fact that this decline in attendance and attention wasn’t something that happened suddenly and it won’t be something that is fixed quickly.
How do you stop this and tell yourself a different story that will allow you to take specific actions and make better judgments?
I think the first step begins by asking yourself what you are avoiding.
Are you avoiding have to make a decision?
Are you avoiding having to confront something?
Are you avoiding something that you’ve been building up in your head for a long time and you don’t even know why?
The second step is likely to come up with some alternative actions that are different from the norm.
Have you ever heard the idea that there are many paths that will get you to your destination?
That’s what I am talking about here.
Sometimes we get stuck on one idea because we forget that we are after an outcome and not a specific path.
We get wed to the path because it is our idea…not because it is the only way.
Finally, you do have to work on telling yourself a different story.
Are you telling yourself the kind of story that says that you can only try one new thing?
Or, are you telling yourself a story built around a limited ability to influence the world around you?
Or, whatever that story might be…can you recognize it?
Once you recognize it, can you see where it comes from and what it does to you?
Do you see it as a form of fear?
Or, as a way to comfort yourself?
Not to get too new age on you, but once you identify the story you are telling yourself, is it the story you want to tell yourself?
If not, what story do you want to tell yourself?
Can you change it?
Do you need help?
Or, do you have a set of tools that will enable you to change your story?
If you need help, I’d point you to the concept behind Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which Seth and Brian talk about, but which is also at the heart of Martin Seligman’s concept of positive psychology….and interrupting patterns.
I know I’ve likely veered a little away from value, marketing, people, and strategy this morning…but have I really?