two rugged hikers consulting their map and compass

My 2023 Pocket Guide


Scroll to the Pocket Guide heading if you don’t want the anecdotal adventures; however, unlike a lot of authors that spam crap into their articles for SEO, I tend to hold my anecdotal musings to be of a much higher quality level. *sound of air escaping from a balloon* OK, let’s deflate that ego a couple notches and get to the fluffy anecdotes, yo!

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The Post-Conversational Blank Stare

Have you ever experienced that moment when you have a 1-on-1 chat with someone, the call ends, and then you just kinda sit there? Just sit staring at your screen, thinking about the things. There are probably multiple reasons this can transpire, but that’s exactly what happened to me today. In my case it was a human caching issue – there was a lot of information in the conversation, there were a lot of topics that had implications beyond the actual conversation itself and I just needed some time to continue chewing on it. As Dorey would say, “Just keep chewing!” . . . isn’t that what she says? Oh well, let the chewing commenceth!

The Conversation

THe blue "CLICK" book cover
Ye book I read, many moons past

Note to self: Use affiliate links on your blog like everyone else does. Thanks, me. Anyhow, I read a book a while back called “Click!” (yes, pictured to the left). The book describes an energy which occurs in a small percentage of our relationships on this Earth. Maybe it lasts a lifetime, maybe it lasts 5 minutes, but during this time, the folks involved (and it is usually 2 people) can be transparent, trusting, maybe even a bit brutal and yet move forward on whatever needs doing without all the normal social barriers, fear of judgment, defensiveness and other social sundries that slows down a typical team.

How did it happen? I was on LinkedIn, I read a profile of someone, they said something funny. I randomly sent back a chat message and said something equally funny (I LOL’d anyway), and next thing I know we scheduled a call and to share some war stories.

It was only 30 minutes, but for that 30 minutes, it was two people who just put things on the table as they saw them and all was well. During that time, my mind was at least 91.3% engaged (which is a very high engagement rate for my mind. It usually hovers around 24.7% – I use this brain engage-o-meter I got on Amazon. Aww, no affiliate link again). Then, after the aforementioned 30 minutes, the call ended, and I sat there chewing on said content.

Life’s Version of Chess

I could pretend, after the call, I was thinking strategically, like people attempt to do while playing chess. But chess to me is a poor primer for life. An 8×8 board, a handful of different pieces, 2 armies on the field. As deceptively complex as that does indeed get, real life’s chess board is like, infinity x infinity, almost eight billion different pieces, some of which can be loosely traced to our “pocket guide to humans” that we carry with us from gym to gym, but there’s hundreds of thousands of armies competing in parallel. A person can open with Queen’s Gambit, and then a purple shark swoops out of the sky devours the whole chess board (it’s very effective!), a few pawns sprinkle to the ground while some noodle-arm dude on the History Channel declares, “I told you! Ancient space aliens!!!” Hooray for chess, now welcome to the real world. Chess is also a good metaphor for academic credentials, because I also just described what happened when I graduated from Arizona State (Go Devils!). Interesting.

In life-chess, we only have enough time to evaluate a disturbingly few number of permutations before making our next move on this expansive, quantum-connected chess board, where each little nuanced choice can and usually does forever change our destiny and the destiny of those around us in known and unknown ways. No pressure, right? Oh well. Breath and let it go (I learned that in yoga. woot.).

As I sat there thinking about the different dimensions of the conversation, how I might catalyze this energy into positive results, I realized that this short, 30 minute dialog resonated with a bunch of fun energy which I could put to good use. It wasn’t just the topics that got discussed, it was their implications to other facets of my journey. After much thinking, and much writing and now, much rewriting, here are the results:

My Personal 2023 Pocket Guide

Know thy Network: We discussed our interpersonal network topography – not just the people we knew, or options immediately known to us, but what we discussed was about taking inventory on our colleagues. An interpersonal focused SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, really, of the key stakeholders we are seeking to involve or engage in our projects/ventures.

Know thy Numbers: We discussed the different ways people create value for each other. When considering the difference between friends and colleagues, I think of colleagues as friends who also have a power and cash-flow dimensionality. I’ve had people tell me things like “the best way to get ahead is to help the person behind you get ahead.” That’s true, but also, in this conversation, the focus was to know the numbers and help the person ahead of you get further ahead, as well! Taking everyone along for the ride means championship from above and a supportive team motivated to fulfill on whatever the project/venture might be.

Zip It: This is one of those tempering lessons we learn through brute force while trying to find that balance between having zero self-esteem and being a complete narcissist. Knowing when to keep information to ourselves and when to share it is definitely a finesse game. On this call we talked about people who basically got quiet when they should’ve been screaming, and were screaming when they shoulda zipped their lip. The impact of doing it wrong was both interpersonally and financially devastating. As the TMI king, I’ve been on a journey to dialing things down, let a scenario play out, chill while I learn, and then share wisely and strategically. In other words… zip it.

In retrospect, I should’ve added a CO2 meter to the tank :-/

Stay Thankful: We talked briefly about hedonic adaptation as we progress – that’s the tendency to get used to living at a certain level of luxury. It’s in our nature to focus on what is missing, to take for granted the things that are going amazingly well in order for us to worry about what is next. I’ve revived my gratitude journal for 2023. Staying thankful is a thing!

Stay True: Finally, and probably most important during this call, we talked about staying true to ourselves. I’ve written about sharing our personal truth without being judged. Truth is a variable. It would be wonderful if it was like chess, but in this reality our truths can change over the course of time. Checking in with ourselves, questioning what we hold as true, and taking action to stay in alignment with the things we do hold as true . . . that is the process of staying true to ourselves.

The Next Steps

I completed my 2023 plan last week (And there was much rejoicing) and this conversation helped gel my approach to some of those resolutions. What I am going to do is engage my plan using the above five items as my “pocket guide.” I know who in my network I am going to contact, I know which numbers I want to research, I’m going to blab on my blog as a redirection mechanism so I can zip it when I need to be more reserved in social settings (borrrring!!! Aghghghghghg!! *breath* *just breath*), I am going to keep up with my gratitude journal, and I am going to bounce everything back off my plan on a weekly and monthly basis to make sure I reflect and feel good about my journey in 2023.

Sometimes post-conversational blank stares are a lead-in to binge drinking (was that my internet outside voice?), but in this case it was the lead-in to some positively charged energy. It also underscores the synchronicity of the cosmos – the ability for the unknown to deliver on these life experiences which cannot be planned for in advance. Also, I had a couple business ideas pop out as a result of rolling this conversation forward into my 2023 plan – but … time for me to zip it. Hoo hoo ha!

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