“Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.”
– Henri Matisse
To some degree, we regard fog in our work and developments as a bad thing.
Fog means non-clarity: of what is coming together (or not); of what is working (or not); of what the end result will be (or not).
We hate not knowing, and will often avoid times when it’s all happening “in the mix” without certainty.
Yet, if we look throughout history, did anyone in the crucible of bringing something about know that the messiness and confusion surrounding them would eventually result in world-impacting change?
In 1928, did research scientist Alexander Fleming, who sometimes left a messy lab at the end of the day — failing to sterilize his plates and leaving the window open — know that mold would form, enabling him to invent penicillin?
In the early 30’s, did 10 drunks all but living together and struggling to stay sober know that they were forming a fellowship which would grow to over 2 million members in 170 countries?
I’m inspired by these and other stories which demonstrate that “in the moment” is rarely the time when we know what we’re actually creating.
In the midst of investing time into the bookstore version of “The Back Forty: 7 Critical Embraces for Life’s Radical Second Half” (the first manuscript was far too dense for bookstores)…
all while building some very powerful and fruitful alliances with players and organizations that jibe with our message…
all while building out a content base of online and live programs in which people can experience the transformative effects of this message…
all while embracing and learning new forms delivering the message (social media) and streamlined systems of communication…
all while maintaining the bread-and-butter support of these initiatives through the coaching, consulting and corporate-employment playgrounds that fund our activities…
Alexandra and I can sometimes feel that we’re swimming in wide-open ocean with no site of land.
So, the inspiration of stories that show how a willingness to stay the course in the unknown can, years later, be the source of statements of amazement – “Who would have known!?” – make all the difference in our world…and, hopefully, the world.
By embracing the Good Fog of creativity, you can empower yourself to, as Thoreau says, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined”.
If you subscribe to The Back Forty conviction that “you have yet to do what you came here to do” and are committed that your second half of life be your best half, what fog of your own creativity can you embrace today for the sake of posterity?
“It is not the clear-sighted who rule the world. Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm fog.”
– Joseph Conrad
“Your problem is to bridge the gap which exists between where you are now and the goal you intend to reach.”
There’s where we are now. There’s where we want to be. There’s a gap.
The first inclination is to be diminished by the gap. Just like when you first realize something about yourself that was in a blind spot, and then use that insight to beat yourself up.
However, learning to positively “mind” the gap — applying mind techniques of which we’re all capable — allows us to be empowered vs. disempowered by the gap.
For example, one of my gaps is social media. I have ignored the gap. I have lamented my seeming inability to traverse the gap. I have tried to pawn off my gap to someone else. For sure, I have not been “empowered” by the gap.
However, if I incorporate the principles of The Back Forty – and practice what we preach (!) – I can entertain the idea that nothing from my first half of life (including social media) poses any limitations on what’s possible in my second half. “Remember Darrell: You’re continuing to GROW, not become settled in your ways and beliefs about yourself and life!”
That’s the bugaboo: if, as we say in The Back Forty, “you have yet to do what you came here to do”, then it’s going to require an attitude of continuous play, trying things out, and learning…the way 20yr olds do when they just don’t know any better. If ignorance is bliss, perhaps ignorance of our perceived abilities is what the doctor is ordering.
Here’s 3 Back Forty techniques for “MIND”ing the Gap. See where you might apply them to your own area of expansion.
First, Acknowledgement. Celebrating the mere fact that we’re ambitious enough to have recognized a gap gives the journey a forward-moving energy and vibration. “Woohoo! Look at where you want to be! Aren’t you the bomb for realizing that?”
Second, Visioning. Taking attention away from the pity-party of this side of the traverse and putting it on the other side, picturing and feeling the “what it will be like when”, initiates magnetic forces which pull out new ways and means for getting there.
Third, Pro-active Matching. Constant comparisons of results achieved with results desired from a “Where’s Waldo” perspective, finding every near hit vs. near miss, creates tailwind vs. headwind.
As I continue moving forward to incorporate into my life some necessary skills for communicating powerfully in today’s world, I enjoy the idea that I’m doing my part to turn around the societal mindset that says “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.
Perhaps the only real gap to traverse is the cultural one that says age has any limit on freedom, innovation, creativity, ideation, and capacity for growth.
What inspired gap of your own can you wrap your mind around this week?
“What I really want and what I’ve been thinking. That’s it folks! That’s all the work there is in closing the gap.”
A fellow blogger asked us to participate in this quiz (see Saddles to Shorelines for her answers)…so I’d better get my answers out before I get too much into this New Year!
I’ll share my thoughts from the Darrell side of the Founders of The Back Forty Fliers…and leave Alexandra to share hers.
Several main events stand out, though it was overall a year of massive transition and elevation. First, there were big opportunities presented this year which broke me outside the limits of the games I’m capable of playing. Some of those big brass rings of opportunity were grasped, others weren’t. Either way, it was a great stretching process to simply begin to think on the terms of many of these possibilities. One that was grasped was the incorporation of a full-time support team member who has proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that growth results from being blessed to find great people and letting them be great. Another great stretch was the buildout of our message and programs, all while Alexandra maintained a full-time corporate role and I maintained my standard coaching offerings. A really big accomplishment was to add in, in a substantial way, new areas of PlayGame and Back Forty coaching which are expanding so much as to take over as the main pillars of our work. OH, and we became PCC certified coaches through the ICF…though both of us have been coaching for decades. We just decided to get that “seal of approval.” Lastly, we bought our first home together. A foundation has now been set for the bigger growth ahead!
We established our own Back Forty roots from which to grow like weeds by purchasing our first home together.
Trust the process beyond what I know how to figure out or do…and just allow BEing happy.
I don’t do resolutions. Here are a few blogs, however, that give a good sense of how I treat the New Year design ritual:
I will say my “theme” for the New Year involves a lot of gratitude, joy, and BEing happy!
We actually did a little guided-intuition New Years Eve! We were so busy the week before and during the holidays, continuing to get settled into our place, that we never made plans for New Year’s Eve. We even ran around doing errands to multiple stores on Saturday afternoon, ending up only showering and being ready to do “something” around 9 pm! So, trusting our intuition to get us somewhere good, we thought we might brave going out into Downtown Long Beach and were only going to drop a bottle of wine off at some new neighbors who had purported to have a little open house early in the afternoon. Turns out, they still had friends over, they still had food and drink, and they invited us to hang…so we did! The most unplanned and yet fun, friendly and intimate New Year I’ve ever rung in.
Expand awareness of the freedom, fun and frolic encouraged by The Back Forty, bring out a #1 NYT Bestseller of the same name, and enjoy the energy of making huge contributions and being contributed to in creating this second half/best half of life. Please join us on this wild ride by grabbing your “Top Ten Tips for a Radical Second Half” here.
Anyone is welcome to join in, and share your answers to or thoughts about the above questions.
I tagged a few bloggers that I enjoy following and look forward to their answers if they wish to take part. Check out their blogs below:
“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”
The New Year resolutions/goals/intentions/declarations/ideas/musings have now had over a week to transform our lives!
And by now, many have already been dropped.
The grand plans and visions can often be a drug-producing magical high and yet, when the rubber hits the road, many a beautiful intention ends up in the ditch.
For many, it’s easier when some institution or corporate change-management official determines that things will be done differently and we must comply. We may moan and groan, and yet — with something critical on the line (like our job)– we do or die.
Yet, taking that change-management leadership into our own hands — being both the stalwart of possibility while, at the same time, the comfort-zone addicted rebel — can be a fascinating process to observe.
Here’s a simple 5A Method to help:
Simply stay awake to the fact that there’s a new kid in town who said they wanted to play differently!
Because we were the way we were for so long before we chose to make a change, it’s easy to just fall back into the old patterns and routines.
Simple structures like posting your goals and intentions in front of your face, where you practically have to fall over them in order to conduct your day, can serve as a daily “Hello!” to the new kid.
Also, making sure you’ve told plenty of friends, family, associates and co-workers helps ensure that the changes get addressed more often than they will if left in your head. Your inner voice is out for your comfort. Others being aware and engaged can get you out of comfort for your change.
Calling a spade a spade.
Did you actually do what you said you’d do? No judgment here, just being an objective and astute observer of your actions and telling it the way it really is.
There WILL be some form of internal resistance to the change. Otherwise, you’d already be BEing or DOing what it is that you want.
Being honest and dispassionate about what is or isn’t happening and telling it like it is gives you power to implement.
If change were easy, we’d all have exactly the lives we want right now.
If you designed goals and intentions for your new kid in this New Year, you must want something other than what you have.
Accept that change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a wide radius to turn a big ship around, and your old ways are a big ship that have been heading a particular direction for a long time.
Forgive your Self, and accept the love of your Self that had you bring this new kid into town in the first place.
What’s missing, the presence of which would make a difference?
The old ways of the old you had certain structures and patterns in place, keeping you in the old you.
For this new kid to take residence, there will be new structures to be put in place.
What new ways of operating, new systems, new communications, new mindsets are required?
The new kid will need a new look to this home if he/she is going to hang around. Bring in the interior (and exterior) decorator to refurbish the look of the place you call “You”.
Simply put in what’s missing…over and over and over and over again.
We often realize that we need to keep getting up after we fall down…until we just decide to not get up anymore.
“It’s too hard.” “It’s just not working.” “I guess this just can’t happen after all.”
Not true! An ongoing process of Activation of What’s Missing can only get us closer and closer to the change we seek.
As Winston Churchill said, “Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.”
Engaging in this 5A process on an earnest and regular basis can provide access to keeping those high-minded intentions on the road to real self change vs. landing in the ditch of defeat.
Got self-change leadership?
“Consider that all accomplishment is constituted by a series of resolved breakdowns.”
“You are not limited to the person you wound up being, the person you think you are. You can create a way of being for yourself that currently would be unrecognizeable for you as really being you, and have that way of being be authentically who you are.”
The quote above goes against the grain for many folks in their second half of life.
It implies that the first half didn’t already carve you into the stone YOU that you know yourself to be.
That’s what The Back Forty is all about. The YOU you know yourself to be is just as create-able, design-able and great-able as it ever was. No stone. Only ongoingly invent-able form.
At 40, I was sitting in a meditation chair one morning watching my son sleeping in my bed because my parents were sleeping in his bed. They had come into town to loan me money in fighting a half-million dollar custody suit. I was pretty clear that my first half of life had not been worth much: broke, in debt, and possibly about to lose the opportunity to raise my son.
A thought then came to me: What if the first half of life is simply R&D, research and development? What if what we really came here to do and be came in the second half, after all that research?
That insight, and the possibility of re-BE-ing my SELF, has resulted in a second half which continues to become unrecognizeable to the first.
If we look at life as a growing up and “finding ourselves” process, we lose out on the real opportunity of living. Finding our greater SELF is a continual process.
The first half of life, if mined for what it has told us about our passions, proclivities, and tendencies, will render us amazing insight and direction as to what we’re here to do and be. This is the work we do in The Back Forty programs and community.
However, the whole point of that analysis of our past is to show us that we are experimenting in the laboratory of life ALL THE TIME so as to continue to discover who we’re here to be and what we’re here to do.
If we ever get “fixed” on some idea of who we are, then the ever-evolving growth process towards what we’re here to do gets thwarted.
Perhaps you have plans for the results you intend to accomplish in the New Year.
What if the true source of the results you’ll achieve is not what you’ll do, but who you’ll BE in the fulfillment of them? Sure, actions must be taken. Yet BEING shapes and colors those actions.
Personally, I’m intending some way-out-in-the-ethers results for 2017, and I’m getting more and more clear that the achievement of such unrecognizeable results must come from an unrecognizeable me.
“Come on! New York Times Bestselling author of ‘The Back Forty’? Me? You’ve got to be kidding!”
It’s only a joke if the me I am now continues to be recognizeable to myself. The aim is for the BE of who I am to be recognizeable to my SELF. Big difference
Therefore, who I will be BEING in 2017 is where I’m placing my primary focus. From there, I’ll take action.
If BEING precedes results, then consider putting your annual ritual of creating New Year possibilities focus there.
If you are so far gone into recognizeability that you don’t even have a ritual of creating New Year possibilities…WAKE UP! Get in the game of the life you came to live!
Who can we BE for the next 12 months that will have our next January SELF be unrecognizeable to who we are now?
It’s a be-annual opportunity.
“For what it’s worth…it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald
“You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you have to overcome to reach your goals.”
-Booker T. Washington
There are lots of ways to treat and greet an oncoming New Year with possibility.
We can commit to resolutions.
We can assess the stats of our goal attainment for the last year and make new stretch commitments.
We can capture our intentions of who we want to be in the next 12 months in a theme, and make plans to live by that theme…posting reminders everywhere.
Yet, in any and all ways we propose to take our life into new realms of who or where we can be and what we can do or have in the next 365 days or less, know that it will invite obstacles.
We can’t expand until stretched to new proportions, and many a resolution, goal or theme are abandoned when the invited roadblocks naturally come.
When JFK was rousing American sentiment to take on a huge commitment to the space program, he quoted a story told by Irish writer Frank O’Conner. O’Conner and his childhood friends would walk the countryside trying to find the biggest wall, and then throw their hats over it.
In those days, your hat was a prized possession, and your mother would be quite upset were you to show up at the end of the day without it. So, this left the boys with no option but to find some way over that wall to retrieve their hats.
Though one could make an argument – from a Law of Attraction perspective – that inviting struggle is a no no…I believe it’s all in the flavor and intent of the invitation.
Most folks invite struggle all the time, albeit unconsciously, through the obsolete or unexamined attitudes they bring with them as baggage into any new job, business, relationship, hobby, venture, activity, or group. That is what LOA is speaking to.
However, to set one’s sites on some rather extraordinary ways one wants to be, do and have life, to get into the actions, mindset and visioning process of achieving those be/do/haves, and then to invite with willing abandon all that the Universe needs to bring to support you to have it – good, bad and ugly) — that’s another thing entirely.
We might call that an act of realistic and practical intention. A good phrase I once heard, for it is “Throwing yourself on the sword.” Not waiting to be cut open, but offering yourself to such a process for the sake of the greater Self, breaking free within.
This takes Back Forty Boldness, and definitely Back Forty Badassity…and yet, what else do you have to do in the next 40 years anyway?
Though contrary to the giddiness of listing high aims and objectives, perhaps a sober and conscious Open Letter of Invitation to Obstacles over the next few days will serve our 2017 of growth even better.
“You can either allow the obstacles in your life to be the excuse for your failure or make them the reason behind your success. ”
“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”
Henri J. M. Nouwen
We all know how this time of year is “supposed to” be.
I’m not saying it isn’t.
In life’s second half, we have an opportunity to move past the bustle of already-routined ways of experiencing life, and the holidays in particular. The kids may be off to college now. Our parents may no longer be with us. We may be still single or still married, neither of which we would prefer.
In the Back Forty, rather than have our holiday practices focus on old, unthought patterns, we can invent new ones as well as new perceptions.
Very often, we miss what might be possible for us to experience because of what we think we should/could/ought-to-be experiencing.
Those are very real experiences which – if we subscribe to the general pictures of how “happy” holidays are supposed to look – there could be a tendency to feel separate from this time of year…like an imposter or foreigner.
Time to invent! Rather than buy into the feeling of separation from the season, where could an experience of “joy” be found even in the midst of that?
Regardless of your current state, as my holiday gift to you, here is a helpful pocket list of various thoughts on “joy” so that you might use this season as a research project as to what joy can be for wherever you are now. What if you didn’t already know…and yet were about to discover?
Keep it close, share it with others…and explore your own Back Forty relationship to joy.
“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”
“Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.”
“Joy is untouched by circumstance.”
“Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.”
“Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God.”
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
“Consider it all joy.”
“Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within.”
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive you will see it.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
“Remember that your natural state is joy.”
“Life is hard. Choose joy anyway.”
“A joy that’s shared is a joy made double.”
“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
“If you can’t find joy in the path you are on and what you are working toward now, how do you expect to find joy once you get there?”
“When you choose joy you feel good. When you feel good, you do good and when you do good it reminds others of what joy feels like and it just might inspire them to do the same.”
“We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.”
“…Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
“A more peaceful way to live is to decide consciously which battles are worth fighting and which are better left alone.”
– Richard Carlson
I’m sure I’m the only one who has sat on a customer service line for 30 minutes or more to correct a billing error or get a refund. NOT!
My most recent experience had me realize I was spending $300 worth of my time to save $30. Insanely bad time management.
Some of us are smarter about this than others. Until recently, I fell into the not-so-smart.
Perhaps there’s some ingrained “stand up for justice” orientation that was ingrained from my childhood experiences or, on the other hand, some self-appointed, Corporate Correction Czar-ness that I picked up in early adulthood, whereby customer service and experience became my torch (thank you Tom Peters). Or, maybe I just blindly want to save a buck.
Yet, the price of the discombobulation that the energy and friction endured to reach that justice-for-the-right, in-search-of-excellence reset, or extra buck is often not worth it.
New awareness, patterns and ways of being are always called for if we’re going to keep growing, and especially in The Back Forty. We can’t keep doing things the same old way if our charge is to free ourselves up to play the Big Game we came here to play.
If the first half of life was only R & D, research and development, for us to now do what we came here to do, we want to be getting lighter, not more entrenched in nitter natter. We should (me, myself, and I) consider letting go of things that aren’t so valuable for those that are. Like peace.
There are people and events in our lives and workplace, businesses we frequent, and family and friends we spend time with during holidays that seem to always stick something in our craw.
Do we grab every opportunity to be right and support the justice of humanity? Only if we want to be a wreck.
‘What price peace?’ is a good question to keep asking ourselves in living every day as our best day, and especially in the lightening up process of gearing up for our Big Game Back Forty future.
Am I encouraging rolling over all the time? Perhaps not. Perhaps there’s a battle that must be fought. And yet, not every single one.
It’s been said that sometimes we need to lose the small battles in order to win the war.
Perhaps sometimes we need to simply let go of the small battles to enjoy peace of mind, body and spirit.
What battle can you release and forego today for the pricelessness of your Back Forty peace?
“Don’t let something that doesn’t matter cause you to lose something that does. ”
“Witness protection just makes for exciting stories and it’s a really rich sort of place to grab stories from… people starting over completely, saying goodbye to their lives before… it never ends in terms of story opportunities.”
When we look at our first half of life – what I call “the Front Forty” – there are certain ways of being and thinking we adopt as far as who we are, our “lot” in life, and what is or isn’t possible for us.
One considers themselves lucky if one can simply get a good education, get married for life, buy a home, raise happy healthy kids, keep a good job, save money, and then retire happily with some vacations, taking care of the grandkids, and maybe tooling around with a hobby or two.
Granted, that’s a good life, as we’re raised to believe. And yet, as many have found while maturing in the world of today, the early “pictures” we had aren’t necessarily realistic.
The American Psychological Association states the divorce rate as between 40 to 50% and the rate for subsequent marriages even higher. Savings can’t survive certain economic impacts such as Great Recessions or crooked investments. The old-world ideal of keeping a job for life is not only totally unrealistic in a “freelance” economy but perhaps not even a good idea if one is looking to expand and move up. And we’ve all had the mythical, solid and steady “home” get shattered in one way or another.
My parents are a good example of that, when Ike hit the Texas Gulf Coast in 2008 and my entire hometown – including their home filled with years of memories – went under 8-10 feet of water. Or my aunt and cousin in Baton Rouge, recently having their own home of 50 years going under in a record flood.
So, what is one to do when the pictures of the way life was supposed to be turn out to be fraudulent? Perhaps enter into The Back Forty Witness Protection Program.
Yes, bringing a little lightness to the whole end-of-the-world experience of divorce, financial or physical destruction, and all forms of devastation can help.
Witness Protection programs were created so that folks who would spill the beans on perpetrators of organized crime during trials could be protected with a new identity with which to live out their lives.
Just what if our “pictures” were part of an “organized crime” to keep us all safely inside of a smaller, limited view of ourselves and what’s possible for us?
Think about it:
The Back Forty philosophy, movement, and community is all about taking the supposed “worst things that could happen to us” and using them as opportunities for opening up to what’s bigger within us and what’s greater coming next.
If we can look back at our past – even these supposed serious and significant events – and analyze them from the point of view of “laboratory experiments” we ran to discover what we’re here to do and express, we get to then focus on inspiring and forward-moving directives rather than harping on our victim-based losses.
What’s the new identity that this supposed “bad thing happening to me” gives me the opportunity to assume? What’s the greater and more expansive life that this event is opening the door into?
Those may seem like impossible questions to ask in the face of our personal stories of devastation…and yet we believe they are the questions we must build our muscles to ask, even when in the midst of horror. In doing so, we begin to turn our small, pictures-based victim into a future-causing being. We thus rise toward becoming more and more of who we here came to be and what we came here to do.
“Nothing in the universe can stop you from letting go and starting over.”
“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”
– Thomas Edison
True, inspiring and motivational thoughts from one of the Gods of creativity and industry…and yet these words may leave us feeling a sense of weight and sweatshop enslavement.
We want to be busy in pursuit of productive endeavor, yes, but how do we transform the flavor of being busy to one of excitement and exploration vs. serious and heavy?
I’ve noticed in my own growth toward expanding coaching services, delivering transformational programs, and growing brand awareness that there’s rarely the old gaps in between activities or big plays.
Though not running a country or even a huge corporation, it causes one to wonder how to best keep playing big when being busy can start to wear on you.
For myself, I see that what’s needed is a transformation in my relationship to “busy”. So, when clients are double booked, there could be excitement at having seen a hole for an upleveled system to implement vs. the self-judgement of having “messed up.” When there’s an ad campaign that spent good money with no results, there can be a jubilant “Hooray!” because we’re finding out what doesn’t work first (like Edison) vs. the woe-is-me marketing-loser feeling.
Bringing the element of “play first” into the mix – where you only consider “learning experiences” vs. mistakes – is a good antidote to oppressed busy-ness. It provides the willingness to keep getting busier and playing fuller until things don’t work anymore…and learn and grow from the insights gained vs. pull back.
When production starts to stretch the current systems — we miss scheduled appointments, the ordering systems fail, longer hours are required to fill demand — these are all good news and opportunities to level-up, system-up, and play-up.
An attitude of gratitude for things starting to fall down on the job — vs. making ourselves or others wrong because things didn’t work “perfectly” — can support the “Bring it on!” thrill of growth.
Where can you joyously thank your breakdowns today for leading to your breakthroughs tomorrow?
Got a busy body?
“He not busy being born is busy dying.”
– Bob Dylan