If you want to really know me, listen to this interview. The big question for me in this lifetime is, “Does everything matter or does nothing matter?” A few months ago, I gave the most personal interview I’ve ever done. My friend, mentor, and storytelling hero, John Bucher, introduced me to Josh Chambers and Leiv Parton, hosts and producer of the podcast, How Humans Change. My interview is now live. our wide-ranging conversation includes career, science, sustainability, the health of the planet, biomimicry, dinosaurs, product development, therapy, curiosity, change, the economy and capitalism, time, technology, work, culture, implicit bias, life-changing moments, storytelling, writing, poverty, trauma, writing, my book, mental health, strength, resilience, therapy, fear, courage, my apartment building fire, how my plane got struck by lightning, and so much more. Despite these dark topics, there is a lot of light, fun, laughter, and healing in this interview. It’s the most personal interview I’ve ever given, and some of the details I reveal about my personal path and past I have never discussed publicly before now. I hope you enjoy the podcast episode and that it inspires you to live the best life you can imagine.
“Love, or the lack of it, is the root of everything.” ~Mister Rogers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Fred Rogers was a life-long Republican. He saved PBS by testifying before Congress. He accepted all people. He cared about the arts, education, and feelings. Imagine the world today if he ran the GOP.
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” ~Gilda Rader
The older I get, the more I’ve learned to love the imperfections of life and of people. The crooked path, the flaws, the messiness. Those things are what I remember. Those are the things that taught me what I needed to learn. Perfect hasn’t given me anything except anxiety and fear. Imperfect has given me possibility, opportunity, empathy, and compassion. Which would you prefer?
Yesterday, I did an interview for a podcast called How Humans Change. I spoke with hosts Josh Chambers and Leiv Parton about change, transformation, death, trauma, writing, mental health, choices, poverty, technology, career, the passage of time, therapy, science, dinosaurs, biomimicry, super powers, and how healing, while difficult, is the best motivator of all. It’s my most personal interview to-date.
Some people who hear it will be surprised, and others will have answers to some long outstanding questions that I have rarely discussed in the past. I’m making a more concerted effort to address these topics thoughtfully, authentically, and often.
I always love meeting members of my tribe and these guys are definitely part of it. Thank you to my amazing friend and mentor, John Bucher, for connecting me to them. I’ll share the episode link when it’s live. Until then, give their first season a listen by clicking here.
I submitted a proposal to speak at SXSW in March. The session is called The Dramatic Structure of Change, and is now available for your vote at http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/82875
The dramatic structure of literature is well-laid track that has proven time and time again to be a valuable way to think of about storytelling in a wide variety of mediums. It’s also a priceless and underutilized tool in the workplace, particularly when we think about leadership from every chair and change management from every vantage point and every level of an organization. As an author, business leader, journalist, and storyteller, I’ll walk the audience members through this valuable paradigm so that you finish this session ready to immediately use it in your work life and with your teams.
The only upside I can see to terrible times is that they can open the door for good people to make big ideas for positive change a reality. I sent some big ideas to potential partners yesterday. I shot the moon. Let’s see if I land in the stars. My hope for better days for all persists. I hope you’re hanging in there, and finding the light where and when you can. If you need help, let me know.
I’m thinking a lot about how stories we tell ourselves affect our paths. What we say are our strengths and weaknesses, gifts and shortcomings, triumphs and regrets. If we change our stories, we can change our minds. And if we change our minds, we change our hearts. And if we change our hearts, then we can change everything.
“The 3 C’s in life: choice, chance, change. You must make the choice, to take the chance, if you want anything in life to change.” ~anonymous
This weekend I said yes to a very big chance. I never imagined this kind of opportunity was out there. I never imagined I’d be asked to take it. I have no idea how it’s going to turn out. But something in me knew this was not a coincidence, that I had to try, despite the fact that it’s a very long shot that it would work out. And you know what? It felt liberating. It felt empowering to just try. And no matter how this goes, maybe that’s the lesson—say yes and try.
I’m posting these embarrassing selfies for your benefit:
I got off a plane from vacation in Vancouver. It was a fantastic trip—more on that later. This post is about you. Well, it’s about you via a story about me. I’ll be brief. My eye started to hurt on the plane. Nothing big; just noticeable. I got home, picked up my dog from boarding, and decided to take a nap. I woke up with my eye crusted shut. My doctor, via video call, thought it was a case of pink eye and prescribed antibiotics. 24 hours later, the swelling, redness, and oozing got much worse, and then spread to my second eye. I got on a video call with my doctor again, and she was alarmed to see how much my condition had deteriorated. She sent me to the emergency room.
I didn’t have pink eye. I had a condition known as periorbital cellulitis. It’s an extremely dangerous infection if left untreated, and can be lethal by causing sepsis or meningitis. It’s usually caused by an insect bite or another similar kind of trauma. I’m immensely lucky that I have access to great, timely medical care. Again, my gut instinct to get help saved me, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.
Now the bit about you:
1.) If you’re sick, please, please, please get medical help quickly. Don’t worry that you’re being a hypochondriac. If you think something is wrong, it’s much better to get it checked.
2.) Do what you love. Please. What you’re passionate about, what lights you up, what makes you curious to learn more and more. Create beautiful art. Write. See your friends. Help people. Share what you have. Fall in love. Adopt a dog. Live. If you’re in a job or a relationship you don’t love, go. Quickly. Don’t waste your time. You never know how much of it you have. Your life can turn on a dime, from something as insignificant as an insect bite. So wear bug repellent and sunscreen because you might as well give yourself your best shot at your best life.
“When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” ~Alexander den Heijer
In a classroom, if a student’s not thriving, our education system too often assumes that there’s something wrong with the child. Imagine what we could achieve in just one generation if we could instead see all children the way a gardener sees flowers: as something we cherish, nurture, and encourage. What a world, right? Let’s change the system so all children can thrive.