Flow to Silence the Voice

There’s a voice inside the head of anyone trying to do something important.

It’s the voice that tells you that you’re not good enough or that you’re not qualified to do anything no one else is doing.

How dare you try and have a voice? What gives you the right?

I had no right to start a school three years ago. Today, one of the amazing people in our group, Ian Scott of Kickstarter, mentioned something profound that I had never realized before.

In a flow state of hyper-focus, the voice that normally talks you out of shipping great work is silenced.

When we decide to finish a project and set a neck-breaking deadline for it, Parkinson’s Law kicks and we finish our project in the allotted time frame.

The interesting thing about this approach is that there is not time or room for the voice to be heard. This is a beautiful side effect of constraint.

When we’re in a flow state, we silence the voice.

The Fear of Failure

Since 2013, the number one fear of those that attend Patterns is the fear of failure. Every single student has alluded to it in one way or the other.

This idea begs to be dissected. Why do we fear failure so much? I believe one reason is that we’re too concerned about what other people think about us. We’re worried they will judge us for selling out or they’ll secretly talk about us hoping that we’ll fail – and sadly, most people of the people you come in contact with will secretly hope you fail. You’ll also be inundated with trolls too scared of failing to try anything.

Another reason we fear failure is that we put so much pressure on a single project or business. We basically say that we’ll put all of our eggs into one project, and if it fails, that’s it. We tried and we’re no good.

I think a great way to get over the hurdle of the fear of failure is to ship a small project out into the world. Even if it fails miserably, you will learn something.

You’ll also learn that it didn’t kill you, that no one will talk about your failure past a few days, and that it isn’t the end of the world.

Keep trying. Keep finding out what doesn’t work.

You only need one success, and it doesn’t rely on the number of times you fail.

Build something that you want to see in the world and it’s impossible to fail because you will have it.

The fear of failing is usually based on nothing. It is a film we’ve created in our minds that we binge watch.

The cure for the fear of failure is to do something. Whether you fail or not, you move past the hurdle and it gets easier and easier.

Let everyone else fear failure. It gives you a better chance at doing what you want to do.

Picking the Best Idea

New ideas come to us every day. Especially those of us who have learned to be in tune with opportunities and ways to improve the world around us.

A question I get asked often is, “How do I choose which idea to do first?”.

Many times it can even go a step further. Many people want to be able to choose the one “golden idea” to focus on for the rest of their foreseeable future.

I’d like to share a few patterns I look for in an idea that help me to choose which project to work on and when.

The first thing I like to look for is whether or not a project matters to me at the core of my being. Is this idea something that I have a strong conviction about and will it keep me up at night if I didn’t do something that day that got me closer to the goal?

The next thing I look for is to ask myself if this idea can be thrown out altogether. It could be a great idea, but sometimes we know that it isn’t desirable, feasible or viable in any way shape or form in our lives. I just let those ideas go to the next bidder.

Another pattern I look for in an idea is if I can declare this idea as a hobby. If I decide that I want to start creating art or music, and I know that my conviction isn’t to make a life out of it, I can declare these ideas as a hobby and use them to recover from my actual work.

Next, I will qualify if and when an idea could make money or support itself. If it is an idea that needs to be free or that might not see a return for months to come, that project has to be placed in a particular cubby hole in my mind due to the constraint on time. The ideas that I need for support many times need to be taken care of before these types of ideas can be explored.

If I am lucky enough to be hit with a good idea and it seems to fit all of my criteria for a good project, I’ll then see how it fits into the flow of projects already in play. If it can replace a lesser project, then I’ll need to decide what to do with the old project. Does it need to be sold, wound down slowly, or can it be abandoned altogether?

If the new idea fits into my workflow, I then try to position all of my tasks in a way that I can use one project to recover and rejuvenate from another project. If I have been spending four hours writing, then many times opening up a code editor or Sketch to design something, keeps my mind engaged in a different way. The inspiration hits a separate part of my mind than writing does and I’m able to keep working at a productive rate.

We usually don’t have enough time for more than three projects running at once depending on their intensity and need for consistency on a daily basis. We have to remember that the energy we spend needs to have a counter-balance for recovery. The key to being effective is managing your energy as well as your work.

I hope these thoughts help you in choosing the best ideas for you.

Letting Your Life Die

The truth about our lives is that they have ups and downs, peaks and valleys. There are hard times that we have to push through and emerge triumphant on the other side.

What about those times when the universe just hits you when you are down? What about those times when everything around you seems to crumble?

This might sound counterintuitive, but what an amazing opportunity!

Sometimes we simply cannot deny the fact that our lives are completely falling apart. When we come to this realization, we can choose to either keep running up hill on a treadmill, or simply let go and let the river take us somewhere better.

We never really know what’s happening to our lives in moments of tragedy, breakdown or loss. We only realize the beauty in hindsight. We lose a job only to find out years later that it gave (forced) us an opportunity to do our own thing. We might have a breakup only to find true love on the other side of the bridge.

If you find yourself in hard times, let “life” as you know it die for your own spiritual renewal. If it’s falling apart, just let go.

You never know what is waiting for you on the other side.

Sometimes you just have to let your life die. It might not have been the life that was meant for you.

A Warning Against Excessive Striving

Excessive striving can lead to an obsession and the reverse of any flow state you may have desired.

The mind that works too hard and doesn’t recover is a mind that operates at a grade school level. Our minds were meant to work hard and recover hard. Keeping your mind in a constant state of striving can keep you from being in the moment and can lead to hasty decisions.

It’s quite amazing to be in the presence of someone you know to have a solid mind, pace and demeanor. There’s something about them. Something you trust. Someone that is under control and is clear-headed about the next seven steps they’re going to take.

Burn out is an animal and it turns you into one as well.

Know when to go hard and when to rest. Know when you’re mind is prepared and planned for work and when you’re trying to push an idea that just isn’t there yet.

Self-control and a good pace are the trick.

Be one of those solid people you can trust to think clearly and act in a timely manner.

Controlled thought, right action.

It shows.

Taking a Few Things Seriously

Minimalism is often misunderstood as a process of eliminating material possessions. What minimalists have come to understand is that our capacity to enjoy, use and appreciate thousands of items in our lives just isn’t possible for those that value the available space in our minds.

The flippant act of commercialism not only clutters our material lives but it also increases the strain on our minds of managing more items. Each item comes with a bill, a worry, lost space, more clutter and less focus on the things that matter.

A disciplined minimalist on the other hand, has learned to assign mind-space for taking a few things seriously. Technology is making it possible to only need to own a few things in our lives and people are starting to realize that possessions don’t make them happy – that it is quite the opposite.

Constraint against accumulating multiple possessions alleviates the constant tension of owning and managing things that we’re not even aware of. Freedom means freedom from things.

Those that travel light, travel fastest through life.

Take a few things seriously and you’ll start to see your world open up to the things you actually want in life – love, freedom, purpose and the ability to do what you want when you want to.

Don’t let the things you own, own you.