When You Start Juggling Unalike Objects

You'll drop the ball sometimes. Juggling is hard.

The sooner you embrace it, the sooner you can focus on improving your act.

We all juggle. Some of juggle people. Others juggle responsibilities. Some people juggle identities. Others juggle work and life.

Juggling is easier when everything goes together.

Imagine you're juggling baseballs, for example. One or two is easy. A third increases the difficulty. A fourth takes some real skill. But what happens when you throw a knife into the mix? Suddenly, an unmatched object confounds the mix. It becomes an entirely new act. One that requires much more deliberate focus.

I'm convinced the same happens in life. Both in the number of different types of things we juggle – and the number of things we juggle that are different from the other things.

Friend groups paint a good picture. Think of all your friends. How many "groups" do the fit into? Are there some you don't think would mesh well with others?

What about identities? Are you a different person to different people? How many different identities, and to how many different people? Surely it gets more difficult to keep straight the more there are. (The idea of this sounds painfully exhausting.)

The easy way out is to stop juggling. Sure, consolidating or off-loading a few things you're juggling can help, too. But in both scenarios, you'll miss out on a lot of the richness of life.

A little variety in life never hurt anyone. You don't have to have an identical set of friends. Or responsibilities. Or interactions.

Even when the inevitable collision of juggling a lot of different things happens, the drama adds a layer of flair to the story you're living.

It's not easy. But doesn't a life filled with homogenous experiences sound boring?

 

 

When To Walk Away

I spent two hours at a car dealership this morning.

Before I left the manager asked me about my experience.

"Honestly, this is taking longer than I'd like," I replied. He acted shocked.

"Really? Usually people are here for 4-5 hours, you've only been here for two!" he replied.

It reminded me of something I often take for granted: the freedom to walk away.

So I exercised it.

Maybe it's easier to see this freedom on display when it involves a pricey transaction. But we carry the same freedom into nearly every arena of life.

It's Always an Option

Hate your job? You don't have to stay.

Toxic relationship? Call it off.

Don't like where you live? Move somewhere else.

It's easy to forget we have this power. Especially when other parties benefit. They'd have us believe we're powerless. That we have to be confined to our current circumstances.

Exercise Your Freedom

We have the freedom to walk away when things don't satisfy our needs or interests.

It's a super power. But only if you exercise it.

When is the last time you walked away?

 

 

 

Let’s Shake On It

I grew up in a place where handshakes mattered. Where a man's word was his bond.

Call me old fashioned but the same principle still governs my worldview.

Doing business shouldn't require contracts.

Except today, you're probably making a stupid decision if you're not getting something in writing.

Sure, contracts make things easier in some ways. Contracts define the scope of expectations for both parties. They provide a means for recourse if terms aren't met. These legal instruments hedge against untrustworthy behaviors.

But contracts also create business friction. They introduce a third-party (lawyers) into a situation that could otherwise be settled between two competent, consenting parties. Contracts extend the sales cycle. They create a barrier to satisfying two party's unmet needs.

Incentives matter.

People respond to incentives. Where there's a big enough incentive, there's also a temptation to violate an agreement. Sure, contracts provide an avenue for reconciliation in these cases – but at what cost? (Read: more lawyers).

Skin in the Game

As Robert Frost said, "Good fences make good neighbors." In some sense, contracts are one way for a person to up the ante on someone else's behavior. They add a little skin in the game for both parties.

Absent a contract, what's the worst that could happen? Maybe it's a line of thinking that ruining your reputation isn't that high a cost. That with the right amount of money you can buy a new reputation – or better yet, buy the victim's silence.

Kinda shady, right?

The Future

Blockchain holds a lot of cool possibilities for getting us closer to "handshake" agreements again. Not in the sense that everybody suddenly begins acting out of good faith. Rather, it takes everyone as they are. Hey, let's just pretend everyone's a shady motherfucker. Instead, imagine a world where people don't have to trust one another to do business.

That's not to say that blockchain will eliminate the need for trust. But what if it could minimize the need for trust? What if two parties could engage in transactions that didn't require egregious legal fees, lengthy due-diligence, and an arthritic-inflicting pile of paperwork?

What if a handshake created an actual binding, digital contract? Instead of needing to "insult someone's honor" or demand a contract – imagine if contracts generated spontaneously.

Pretty wild to think about, right? Maybe not.

Nice guys finish last.

Sadly, I don't think honoring handshake deals is back on the rise. But the cost of transacting business AND providing means for enforcement is getting a lot easier.

I like to imagine a world where, instead of looking over your shoulder or worrying who's going to screw you, you can confidently go about your business in good faith.

Maybe there's still hope for the nice guys out there after all. But for everybody else, get it in writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Wear Your Beer Shirt to Church

I've long since abandoned the atheist phase of my early 20s. But I haven't gone to church regularly in nearly a decade.

After spending an ungodly portion of my youth engaged in church activities, I walked out.

They were wrong.

I had a serious disagreement with church leadership as a teen. Their argument felt more contrived than actual verbal confirmation from God: we prayed over this and it's what God wants.

I felt like I was being looked down upon because I was young. So when my pleas fell on deaf ears, I decided to boycott.

I was wrong.

I struggled reconciling this incident for years, searching long and hard for answers. Then I realized my spiritual journey has nothing to do with the way other people behave. It's entirely personal, and my misgivings with people need not interfere with my own pursuit for truth.

Something's missing.

Yet I can't help but carry some burden of the weight I've felt in almost every church setting I've tried to reengage. It hasn't felt like something personal. Nor has it felt up to the snuff on the message it markets.

Maybe it's the unruly pagan in me speaking, but church and organized religion have always felt more like institutions of people-judgment than of people-development.

I don't mean people who go to church are bad. On the contrary, many of the best people I know – including my dad – practice what they preach as adamantly as anyone. But my own experience has left me wanting more than what I've found any church to offer.

I try to recreate the experiences I enjoy.

I find many of the concepts embedded in church culture appealing. The fellowship, pursuit of truth, worship, prayer, devotion, discipleship, not to mention a good potluck..

But my experiences with these activities as part of a church have always felt tainted. Almost as if they were guided more by ulterior motives than to drive personal growth. Like a need to validate certain interpretations of scripture or someone's ego.

I've found my own pursuit of all these things to be much richer when done in a decentralized setting, not under the watchful governance of liturgy.

Come just as you are.

A lot of ideas I have don't make for polite Sunday-lunch conversation. Still, many of them are both informed and inspired by scripture, theology, and Christian philosophy. One such idea I've taken from a classic hymn – that we should come just as we are.

Every major intellectual or spiritual leap I've taken has been predicated on this notion. The freedom to approach ideas just as I am has led me through more personal discovery than all learning involving an intermediary combined.

This approach to learning, truth, and spiritual growth makes me feel like I have some say over it. That if I'm not satisfied with the growth I've achieved, I can dedicate more energy to it. Or if I've fallen out of step, then it's my responsibility to recover – not some institution's responsibility to shepherd me.

I own my spiritual growth.

I don't think it's some religious figure's or organization's place to cast stones on the route I take in my spiritual journey. If church or religion should have any part in my spiritual endeavor, then it should be as secondary influences, not as some spiritual auditor I'm trying to impress to earn a credential for heaven.

Taking ownership of my spiritual development has freed me to seek truth on my own terms, at my own pace – even if that's meant making a lot of mistakes.

No, I don't hate church. But my congregation wears the same clothes 7 days a week.

About Mitchell


Mitchell is a cowboy turned startup professional and Director of Marketing @ Crash. He’s a former champion meat grader. Author of Don’t Do Stuff You Hate. Narrator of Why Haven’t You Read This Book? And previously Chief of Staff at Ceterus – where he helped scale a team from 20 to 150 while quadrupling revenue.

He’s radical about creating a better future and helping others do the same. Unsolvable problems and conspiracies are his favorite conversation genres. The keys to his heart – fine Bordeaux and Hemingway novels.

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