A bit of advice given to a young Native American at the time of his initiation: as you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump! It’s not as wide as you think.
Writing a newsletter is much like going to the gym. If you take a week off, you feel nice and refreshed. If you let that one week turn into two, you start to get comfortable not doing it. God forbid you slide into three weeks off, then you're a goner. It's hard to get started again and you keep telling yourself you'll start tomorrow. But tomorrow turns into another week...until finally, you’re so disgusted with yourself that you drag yourself back into the gym.
The first day back is hard. But then you get back into the flow, and things get better again.
And, yeah, so here I am, back with the weekly Coach's Notes.
Full disclosure...if you know me well enough, you know that I love shiny new tech toys (mainly apps and social tech). This newsletter is coming to you via a cool startup newsletter company called Substack. I'll tell you why it's cool a little further down in this issue…
I’m a constant experimenter. I love tinkering with stuff and deep diving down rabbit holes to see where they go (I’ve yet to meet the rabbit that lives down these holes. I hope it’s not the one from Donnie Darko:
The problem, of course, is while I’m off on these adventures of the mind, I tend to negligent my steady state stuff like these notes. But you know that, ‘cause you haven’t heard from me in awhile.
But as George Costanza said, “I’m back, baby! I’m back.”
I’ve decided to revive the original format of these notes. I liked the Revue version (you know - the eclectically curious curated links format) but I miss having this kind of conversation with you. More direct. More personal.
Plus I need a touchstone. A focal point. Something to use a central hub to link out to all my other media formats like my podcasts and videos and ecourses. The newsletter, or notes in my case, seems the perfect vehicle for unifying my work and letting me know who’s in the game and who’s not.
And now for one of the reasons I’ve switched to Substack - in the future, once I’m flowing steady again with the weekly issues, I can turn on the paid function. What that means is I can make some issue for paying subscribers only, whilst maintaining a free version as well. It’s a way for creators to make a few pennies from the work we produce - crowd funded by the fans who support what we do and the value we bring to their lives (assuming I bring value to your life in someway, shape or form).
Anyway, that’s just a heads up. I won’t be turning on the paid content until I’ve reached a couple of milestones, which I hope you will help me achieve.
Tools and Techniques
You’ve got to know where you’re going if you ever hope to get there.
A useful technique to use is to write a letter from the future to yourself. Choose a date some months or years in the future. It should be a date that means something to you like an anniversary or a birthday. Then imagine your life has gone rather well. Things have turned out the way you wanted them to. Write yourself a letter from your future self, telling you about the developments in your life.
Try to imagine how your life would feel having achieved what you wanted to achieve. Use this letter to explore all areas of your life as you will. When you’re done writing the letter, you will have created a map for your present self to follow.
Things I Read
I have a bucket load of books to catch you up on since I last published The Notes, but let’s start with this one:
If you haven’t read Flow: the psychology of optimal experience yet, get on it. I found it to be one of those books that rocks you’re thinking. It certainly rocked mine. It’s a classic book in the field of positive psychology written by a cat named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (yeah I struggle pronouncing his last named too. Here’s how he coaches people to say it: “chick-sent-me-high”. Apparently that gets you close to the right pronunciation.
The book covers Mihaly’s two decades worth of research into the states that people report feelings of concentration and deep enjoyment. Two of the questions he tackles are:
What really makes people glad to be alive?
What are the inner experiences that make life worthwhile?
And in his search for answers, he discovered what he calls ‘flow’ - a state of concentration so focused that it amounts to complete absorption in an activity and results in the achievement of an ideal state of happiness.
He gets into stuff like:
The challenge of lifelong learning
Art, sport and sex as ‘flow'
the pain of loneliness
optimal use of free time
and how to make your life meaningful
Get your copy.
Things I Saw
Here’s a little more to entice to read Flow. Watch Mihaly’s TED talk on Flow:
So how often do you experience flow? What type of activities lead you to this experience?
A learned man once went to visit a Zen teacher to inquire about Zen. As the Zen teacher talked, the learned man frequently interrupted to express his own opinion about this or that. Finally, the Zen teacher stopped talking and began to serve tea to the learned man. He poured the cup full, then kept pouring until the cup overflowed.
“Stop,” said the learned man. “The cup is full, no more can be poured in.”
“Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions,” replied the Zen teacher. “If you do not first empty your cup, how can you taste my cup of tea?”
Moral of the story - empty your cup daily, so you have room to learn something new.
OK, so time is closing in on me. I want to get this out to you before the end of the night. And I still have part two to write, which showcases the second reason why I’ve switched Substack. I’m going to close on that thought. I’m glad to be back writing the Coach’s Notes. I hope you’re happy to be receiving them again.
I’ll share my second reason for Substack tomorrow.
Note: I do use Amazon Affiliate links in the Notes. What that means is if you use My Amazon Affiliate Link and purchase anything on Amazon, I get a small referral fee. It's seamless to you and doesn't affect the price of what you purchase. The money I receive helps me continue to bring you the Coach's Notes free of charge.