Welcoming 2021

It’s almost here, friends, a New Year!

What lessons and mementos will you hold in front, what light guides you?

Tonight I consider the landscape and path ahead.  What do I look forward to, and how do I want to be?  How will I approach relationships, media, leadership, projects, and health?  How will I challenge myself?  On the last blog post of 2021, what do I want to look back and be able to write about what’s important to me in the year past?

Relationships:  Always work to do here.  Some will require more vulnerability, which is scary.  In others I will work to overcome booth pride and self-doubt—maybe that is the ultimate paradox of imposter syndrome?  At my best I exemplify curiosity, humility, generosity, honesty, and kindness.  In the hardest moments I must cultivate non-judgment, empathy, and patience. I will scrutinize my inner narratives and assumptions, and look always to connect.

Media:  Ask. More. Questions.  What is the writer/reporter/source’s objective?  What is their bias?  What is mine?  Where/how can I access primary data in full context?  How should I be willing, and how willing should I be, to learn, change, and grow from what I take in?  How will this make me better, and to what end?  To practice thoughtful discernment—before, during, and after consumption—that’s the goal.

Leadership:  What do people need from me, individually and as a group?  How can I best also lead those who lead me?  In 2020 I completed a 360 evaluation; the feedback has served me well, and I review it often.  In 2021 I commit to stepping out of my default styles more often.  I will nurture my I, S, T, and J sides and attune better to those who live at these frequencies.  Goal:  To help my people and organizations advance toward our full potential, always aligned with and in service of our deepest core values.

Projects:  Assuming the invitations continue, this could be hard.  Every new presentation, paper, group, conference, and class, in my mind, is another exciting opportunity to learn, synthesize, integrate, and connect!  But I can’t do everything, and I must stop “screwing your future self,” as Ozan puts it, by overcommitting. 

Health:  Walk the talk.  Sleep, Exercise, Nutrition, Stress Management, and Relationships.  After all this time, defining health in terms of these five reciprocal domains continues to bring clarity and direction for both my patients and me.  I’m learning about keystone habits, which I bet will help all of us in the coming year.  Thankfully, not every domain goes to hell at the same time, and all behaviors are subject to change.  Goal for 2021 is to fortify healthy habits in each domain, especially the weak ones, to make them less susceptible to derailers.

Coda – Some last thoughts for the year

Books:  This week I started and finished Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights on Audible in about 36 hours.  I don’t know if his hoots and whistles are written in the book, but they and he are a riot to hear on audio.  What a master storyteller!  And the life lessons are valuable, too, offered with humor and confident humility—highly recommend.

Since I shared my 2020 book list last week, friends have made myriad suggestions that are now in the queue for 2021:

The Naked Now by Richard Rohr

Upstream by Dan Heath

Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg

Who You Are: The Science of Connectedness by Michael J. Spivey

You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy

Thinking In Bets by Annie Duke

Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative by Ken Robinson

The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukainoff and Johathan Haidt

The Long Game by Mitch McConnell

I’ve considered reading that last two for a few years now, and always avoided it.  Didn’t want to be uncomfortable.  In 2021 I commit to training in discomfort, to learn and broaden perspective.

Songs:  A friend solicited a playlist to bridge what has been to what can be.  Here are my contributions.

Do What You Can, Bon Jovi

May We All, Florida Georgia Line

Burn the White Flag, Joseph

Stand By You, Rachel Platten

No I In Beer, Brad Paisley

Days Like This, Van Morrison

The Mountain, Dierks Bentley

From Now On, The Greatest Showman Soundtrack

Dancing Queen, ABBA

What’s on your lists?

COVID Vaccine:  I recommend it.  After reassurance that my colleagues at higher risk than I who wanted it have gotten it, I got my first dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine yesterday.  34 hours out now, I have minimal, focal, and superficial arm soreness at the injection site and no other symptoms.  I did my usual HIIT workout tonight without limitation.  Read this concise and user friendly guide to the mRNA vaccines by Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna, with references to data on safety and efficacy.  To see when you will likely be eligible to receive the vaccine, refer to this slide deck from the CDC, also concise and easy to read.  There are many months yet ahead to stay vigilant and mindful, though.  Cases and deaths will continue to rise before receding, especially with all of the people still traveling for the holidays.  Please continue all of your best COVID exposure precautions, for all our sakes. 

So much lies out of our control, friends.  And yet we all still have all kinds of agency.  We get to shape our future.  Let us all use our personal power for good, shall we?  At the end of each day may we look back and forward on myriad words and acts of kindness, generosity, humility, and connection, rather than judgment, ridicule, derision, and exclusion.  That’s how we can make 2021 infinitely better than 2020.

Ask Me Anything

NaBloPoMo 2020 – Today’s Lesson

Ozan Varol’s Inner Circle is still going strong.  I visit every day to see what people are doing.  Jeff has recently picked up ukulele playing.  Prior to this week I would have spelled ukulele totally wrong.  Ozan will host an Ask Me Anything (AMA) call next week, and solicited questions in advance.  I submitted three.  I never ask questions that I’m unwilling to answer myself, so here goes:

What are you working/playing on now?

Working on:  Mindful, Humble, and Learning Leadership.  Every day feels so intense right now, every encounter important.  I know I’m messing up, but I don’t always notice right away.  So I’m working on awareness, prevention, and accountability.

Playing on:  Piano.  I love our baby grand, and wish daily to commune with it.  Gotta wait for the kids to be up, and when the hubs is not on a call.  I’ll get good at this one song, maybe two, and keep going from there.

What really stands out to you about this year?

Disparity.  Clarity.  Reality.  Humanity.  Never before has it been more clear to me who we are, how we relate, and how everything is interconnected.  Core values, minimum requirements, and default priorities emerge, sometimes in harsh light.  We are called now to be deeply honest, and better.

What unexpected lesson are you really grateful to have learned in 2020?

I have a long way yet to go in truly living out my ideals.  Once again, I see that diligent study and cognitive understanding do not necessarily translate into limbic motivation or competent ability.  But I’m already stronger in my self-compassion practice, understanding that most skills require training to hone, and competence derives from cumulative experience.  So I’m okay.

Hope Ozan finds these questions as fun as I did.

Credentials and Credibility

NaBloPoMo 2020 – Today’s Lesson

Who do you trust?  Why? 

Margo and I were friends.  So when she recommended Christine as a life coach, I trusted enough to make the call.  I had no idea what a life coach was; “CPCC” was meaningless to me.  But after the intake call, her credibility and expertise were well-established, and she has been my coach ever since.  That was 2005.

I spent $900 and a weekend on Zoom last month for Ozan Varol’s Moonshot Academy.  I trusted in the value of the experience based on my interaction with Ozan’s Inner Circle to date—for two days I would give and receive peer coaching in a creative and challenging environment.  And bonus, I met Andrew, Kes, and Nicole.  Each of us aims to learn, share, expand our horizons, and do more good, hallelujah!

Kes’s last blog post goaded me to differentiate between credentials and credibility—my own and others’ alike.  Do I deserve your trust in clinic just by virtue of my MD?  What about when I speak and write on communication and leadership?  Why should you trust me?  Why should I trust you?

What are credentials?  My list includes education, work/life experience, recommendations/references, and body of work (eg peer reviewed publications). 

What establishes credibility?  My list: Attitude (humility, honesty, curiosity, reciprocity); consistency and integrity; purpose; quality of relationships (and thus references).  Christine’s credentials are solid.  Like any good professional she expands her expertise with continuous study.  But her credibility stems from her honesty and integrity—who she is.  It’s why I refer patients and friends.  Their feedback glows, and Christine’s credibility expands.

So perhaps credentials are superficial—what we’ve done, what’s immediately visible…  And credibility is deep—who we are, what we’re about.  I know which is more important to me.