0105-Overtones: Second Level Agency

I had another dream this morning around 8am where I was presented (again, without any real context—the idea just “occurred” to me, if you will) with an idea.

In this case, it was the idea that there are two levels of agency. The first level is the basic level that we all have—the capacity to choose our attitudes about our circumstances, and then work within our circumstances to make things work out for the best. This is the level that most people live out their lives in. This is where the real test of mortality takes place, where we show our Father in Heaven that we are willing to do all things whatsoever He commands us.

But there is a second level of agency. It is the level where a person rises above his/her circumstances. It’s the level that makes the great leaders, reformers, entrepreneurs, inventors, as well as the tyrants, Hitlers, and manipulative and wildly successful salesmen.

This second level of agency isn’t limited to circumstances, but can actually bring about significant changes to circumstances. It’s available to all, though it will manifest itself very differently in every person who chooses to use it.

So what is the difference between those who live entirely in first level agency and those who develop and live in second level agency? That’s what we discuss in this program.

0102-Overtones: The 10,000 Hour Rule and the Definition of Insanity

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The difference between writers/musicians/artists who “make it” vs. those who don’t
  • The 10,000 hour rule and the definition of insanity
  • You’ve got to learn through trial and error…
  • When to just buckle down and stick to it, and when to change direction (big OR small)
  • How focused to be
  • How diversified to be
  • Know who you’re taking advice from (successful? Failure?)
  • My story: 2007
  • The story behind the piano solo, If You Could Hie to Kolob

Preparing for Turn Thirteen

I heard an interesting interview with a bobsledder. He was talking about a ride where one of the major turns went incredibly well, and then, almost without warning, the sled flipped, and the crew was going down on their heads.

Being the one responsible for leading into the turns, he apologized to his teammates, who asked what went wrong.

“I did turn twelve so well that I lost sight of turn thirteen.”

Photo by familymwr on flickr

How easy it is for writers to make the same mistake; after experiencing a small success, to get lazy with the next thing. It could be a well written chapter, a book that was accepted for publication, or even a brilliant signing. When confidence clouds vision, and you become lazy with with your discipline, technique, or schedule, you crash. A great turn, though invaluable, is not the finish line.

How to Prevent Missing Turn Thirteen
Let a successful turn refine your focus, rather than distract you from it. You should be grateful, and celebrate—but don’t look back. When things go well, work harder. Instead of softening your grip, tighten it, and let the momentum of your mini-success propel you into complete success.

The Power of an Ordinary Day

Most days are ordinary days. Most often, when I come to the end of the day, I can’t think of anything that occurred during the day to distinguish this day from any other day in my life. It’s amazing how many times a day starts full of grand ideals and ideas, with motivation, determination, or anticipation, only to end up as an ordinary, useless day.

We all know how precious time is, yet it still passes. It passes as quickly and effortlessly as the clouds that come and go unnoticed.

Some would consider it a depressing idea that an individual could be born, live, and die in complete anonymity. But to me, it is fascinating, because that inconspicuous forgotten soul can still progress to immortal glory, worlds without end. When you see things from the perspective of eternity, the least of us has as much potential as the greatest of us.

So what about time? Can a seemingly meaningless day be worth the value of endless days? Can my pointless day hold as much meaning as what another might experience in a million years of life?

I believe it can. Perhaps today was the day I thought of the idea of getting a book from the library to identify a tree in my yard. Days later I act on that thought, and check out the book, which leads me to take greater interest. Perhaps my simple thought may lead me to one day become a professional botanist or herbologist. Perhaps today I thought of the idea of emailing an old friend – or a new friend, which eventually leads to a lifetime friendship.

Have you ever wondered when Leonardo Davinci got the first thought, the first idea, to try doing something with art. Was he a child? Was it on an ordinary day? Did he even act on the thought for a few days? I’d be surprised if the very first inclination to try something creative didn’t come on an ordinary, boring, and meaningless day.

Most people meet their future spouses on ordinary days. Most people’s first exposure to their genius came on days that seemed to Continue reading

People Pile

people-pile.jpgWhen I was in the fourth grade, I was coming in from recess one day with my sister, when we noticed an unusual commotion in the doorway of the school. As we got closer, we saw that there was a large pile of kids stacked 3 feet high, each kid shouting and struggling to get out of the pile. I don’t know how they got that way, but they looked so ridiculous that I laughed out loud. I pointed, saying to my sister, “Look at that! It’s a pile of people!” Suddenly someone bumped into me from behind. The next thing I knew, I was at the bottom of the pile. Well, almost at the bottom – I could feel an arm under me. Kids piled atop me, and I screamed with the rest. It was another minute or so before a teacher was able to get the pile sorted out and the kids all standing again. I remember going to class with a puffy wet face, and a feeling of utter humiliation.

I’ve thought of that situation many times since then, and it makes me laugh nearly every time I do.

It’s easy to laugh at life when I look at it from a safe distance, but when I get shoved into the pile, it stinks. Everyone clamoring to get above me while I’m just trying to get out of the pile. Pounding my fists while my head is being pressed to the floor, I wonder how I ever got myself into this stupid situation.

Sometimes I think of the people pile as an analogy of society – no one wanting initially to get into the mess of it, but once they do, they want to be at the top of the pile. What a strange system we have!

But there is another, simpler lesson that I get from this story. Thank heaven for memory. And thank heaven for perspective, which can turn a horrible situation into a humorous one. It takes work, but it if I’m willing to take a moment to think about it, I can find humor in nearly every challenge, and doing so makes life much more interesting. After I am clear of humiliation and danger, the worst piles in my life make some of the best stories. The worse the fix, the better the story.

So the next time you find yourself at the bottom of the pile, with your face being rubbed into the hardwood floor, just think of what a great story it will make later.