Two men sit on portable stools with fishing rods positioned in front of them. They are sitting on an outcropping overlooking a large lake or bay. The sky is clear and the water is blue. In the distance there is land on the other side of the water.

Celebrating Life’s Quiet Awesomeness and Embracing the Power of Thinking Small

I have been writing a TON of content and there is so much going on, but none of it is fit for public consumption! At least, not yet. I’m currently focused on some quiet awesomeness, so let’s make that today’s theme. In a world filled with endless content and noise, it’s easy to overlook the small, intimate, and anonymous moments that make life truly special. Today, let’s dive into the world of quiet awesomeness, silent strength, and invisible genius – let’s embrace the power of thinking small.

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Escaping escapism via an internet cul-de-sac

The internet has become an influencer’s playground, their SEO content overshadowing truly valuable information. We get twinkling calls-to-action sprinkled into our social media feeds. Clickbait is strung out across headers, sidebars, and landing pages like year-round holiday lights. Many times this content is so invasive, it blocks my ability to see the stuff I actually wanted to see. My phone will buzz, all excited to notify me that, “Hey, Fleffer Plurgburger is on InstaChat!” — I don’t know that person, how did this become a priority?

A couple days ago, I carved out 6 minutes for social media to conduct a test. I gave Twitter, Snapchat and Reddit 2 minutes each. In summary:

  • Twitter = Hate
  • SnapChat = Fan Service (blooper reels that tend to feature scantily clad females)
  • Reddit = A.D.D.

I just needed to back away slowly from the display and avert my gaze (*sound of Velcro coming apart*)… whew! That was close. Social media platforms are designed to keep us hooked on their endless streams, but rarely is the content worth our time. Amidst this sea of endless, intense, stormy escapism masquerading as urgent, socially-responsible intelligence, there are still internet culs-de-sac to be found. Places like MindFuel (a shameless promotion of this blog), where the sun still shines, urgency becomes a soft breeze, and waves of contemplative words roll on to the shore with a soothing whoosh. Readers can take things at a more chill pace, be inspired and feel good about life. Maybe even be inspired enough to take a break from their screen entirely.

That’s what I did after my social media experiment. I just headed out to my garage. I needed a media-free moment!

Welcome to my garage: the joy of being offline

There was nobody in my garage, except me. There was some woodworking gear which I had spent a whole day cleaning and organizing so I could actually use it. Like a treadmill that gets purchased for one purpose and then slowly transforms into an armoire with stuff draped over it from last Christmas: a stack of projects, gardening gadgetry, house painting supplies and other gack had stacked up in front and around my woodworking tables.

The garage reorg was completed a while ago, and just to be sure, I brought in a consulting firm to green-light my efforts. McKinsey studied the garage from all the Gartner-recommended angles, mapped it out on 20 or 30 magic quadrants, there were burn down charts, burn up charts, burn sideways charts, circles, scatter plots, node diagrams. It was really cool. Slide 246 declared proudly, “Congrats! You can do your woodworking!” I am not sure I needed to spend that $1.7 million. Did you know my garage is also AI-ready? Wow.

I decided to do some woodworking. Cutting, sanding, gluing, fastening, clamping. . . it was fun! I think when I was done I had an ashtray. Or maybe it was a hat. Point is, it wasn’t on the internet. Unless someone wants to create a woodworking fail meme, my ashtray hat will never be on the internet. That is the nature of quiet awesomeness. I had fun, it was awesome, nobody was there. And I only skinned my knuckles once!

And welcome to my patio: a world away from the world

A barred owl sitting on a patio railing and looking at the camera.
Meet one of our barred owls. They are loudly awesome.

I then wandered out to my patio. We have a strip of trees in our back yard that is maybe 50-60 feet wide and goes on for maybe a quarter mile. I kid you not, there’s more life in this little narrow strip of the woods than I get to see on any of my wilderness hikes. Maybe it’s because there’s not many places for these critters to hide!

My wife and I have nick-named it “PatioTV”, because we’ve seen deer, rabbits, raccoons, frogs, turtles, snakes, different birds, we even have barred owls and hawks – it’s just crazy. Rumor is there is a black bear roaming around back there, too. I think we have yeti, also, but my neighbors just roll their eyes when I say that. The Mrs. came out and sat next to me. Normally we talk, but we just sat there and listened to all the creatures. Silent strength. No words needed and yet the energy was strong, supportive, peaceful, and clearly evident. No pomp, no buzz, nothing to photograph or post about, and yet it was perfect. I cherish those moments.

Embracing invisible genius

Sometime genius will bubble up on the internet. Stuff that is just amazing, or even just extraordinarily clever. Those are usually small blurbs, one liners, an amazing photograph – something we can absorb quickly. Invisible genius can go a couple directions.

“Not share-friendly” ideas

Here is an example most people will know: Today, everyone says Tesla was genius, but back when it first started it was just the electric car that came a decade after Saturn’s EV1. To me, Tesla the car was not the genius (even though there was a ton of engineering and intellectual property generated to build one, and there are probably many examples of invisible genius just within the creation of this car). The invisible genius for me was starting with the roadster. Having the most badass version of the car come out first. Nobody knew (back then) there was a strategic rationale for the roadster to come out first. At that time, it was an example of invisible genius. These days, it’s not so invisible, but there is no meme, photo or one liner that can showcase this moment of genius on social media. So that’s kinda the point with this kind of invisible genius. There’s no social media share which will capture it, and therefore, it cannot be made evident without some additional investment (maybe even [gasp] several minutes worth of time).

Anonymous genius

There’s another flavor of invisible genius – like, whoever invented camp fires, whoever discovered the mushrooms that were not safe to eat (genius for us, not so much for whoever that was!), and the inventor of toilet paper. These are genius items that might have been “discovered” and “invented” by multiple people, but we’ll never know who they were. That’s definitely more resonant with my intent for the post. In fact, I would take it even further and include those moments where we cleverly solve a challenge or tee up a strategy and it is just so niche that maybe only a handful of people will ever know about it, if anyone at all.

For example, invisible genius can include loading up for a road trip, and being unable to fit everything in the back of the car, but then, playing Tetris with the luggage and solving the puzzle. It could include that conversation you had with a buddy where you solved a global problem, but realized it required direct access to a super nova. Odds are, you and your friend will keep that genius in your hip pocket. It’s that person in the movie who saves the world, but in this version, nobody made a movie about it – it just actually happened, completely in the background. This type of invisible genius – maybe it gets carried forward anecdotally, but personal credit for it is not in the public eye. It doesn’t show up on a resume. Precious few may ever know it happened, or, even if the results becomes widely known, we might never know who actually made it possible. Who was Satoshi, the inventor of Bitcoin? He, she or it was an invisible genius.

For the record, some folks might consider Illuminati and conspiracy theory as part of invisible genius – the “stuff behind the stuff” that we are never told about. To me, that’s a different energy and doesn’t belong in my invisible genius garden. (*yank*… *brief inspection*… *chuck*).

Thinking small in a good way

Somewhere, opposite the internet, the buzz, the hyper-connected “group think”, the AI-generated “thought leadership.” As a contrast to all that, we have these intimate, small, anonymous moments. For someone like me, who fancies myself a “Type B Grand Strategist,” I have all sorts of business ideas, ideologies, visions, perhaps even delusions of grandeur, and just like the internet, I can create my own internal cacophony within my mind. Thinking small is a way to dial into a present moment, away from all the buzz of the outside world, and engage in something that takes me away from all the buzz inside my mind.

It’s focusing on some craftsmanship that takes all my attention, or holding hands with my wife and just listening to all the different birds in our trees and laughing to myself about how they do, in fact, sound like Twitter. Thinking small is like meditation, only we can couple it with a hobby if that helps clear our mind. Being in love with these small moments ensures we operate from inspiration over desperation. Inspiration fills us with energy to run towards something in our lives (achieving our dreams) instead of running away from something (escapism). When inspired, we make different choices about what we think of ourselves, how we talk, and which actions we take. People around us can sense desperation, and they can be energized by our inspiration.

By appreciating our silent strength and celebrating our invisible genius, we can cultivate a mindset focused on inspiration and genuine fulfillment. Take the time to disconnect, appreciate the beauty around us and embrace the power of thinking small. Then. . . we can get back to our “bigger” thoughts, safe in the knowledge, we can always return to our favorite internet culs-de-sac or completely disconnect again, as needed. Like shampoo, rinsing and repeating is allowed. Unlike shampoo, doing this multiple times a day is probably better for our health.

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