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Expose Your Authentic Self and Create a Sustainable Life and World
Second Ebook Edition Divergent Drummer Publications Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
This book is meant for educational and informational purposes only, for the reader’s consideration. The author and publisher assume no liability for damage claimed to be caused directly or indirectly by this book. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of information. Resources such as weblinks are valid at the time of this document’s creation. To protect privacy, pseudonyms appear in many passages. Copyright © 2008, 2011 Dave Wheitner All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any other information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the author, except for brief quotations in a review. Photographs copyright © 2008 Dave and Jen Wheitner. Clipart images copyright © 20072008 Jupiter Images, utilized following their guidelines. Cover and design by Dave Wheitner. Acknowledgments for generous permission to reprint previously published material: The modified “Problem versus Vision” exercise and related concepts in Chapter 6, and information on the creative framework in Part III including the telescoping model illustration concept, from Simplicity and Success by Bruce Elkin, copyright © 2003 by Bruce Elkin, Trafford Publishing, Inc., Victoria, Canada. Used by permission of Bruce Elkin. Information on the creative framework in Part III, including the arrow illustration concept, from The Path of Least Resistance for Managers, copyright © 1999 by Robert Fritz, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., San Francisco, CA. All rights reserved. www.bkconnection.com. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. The Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern Model in Chapter 17, from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, copyright © 1999 by Stephen Covey, Simon & Schuster, New York. Reprinted with permission of FranklinCovey Company. Also available in paperback, ISBN: 978-0-9817764-4-6 Paperback Library of Congress Control Number: 2011922004 Paperback Library of Congress subject headings: Success–Psychological aspects Self-management (Psychology) Self-actualization (Psychology) Book feedback and inquiries: pubinfo (at) divergentdrummer (dot) com Coaching, speaking, workshop inquiries: http://idealistcoach.com Version 2.0
This book is dedicated to you, to the exciting life you envision, and to an authentic, just, and sustainable world for all of us.
Acclaim for NAKED IDEALISM
“…A stimulating and novel blend of self-help manual and sustainable living guide…exceptional advice on the peculiar crossover aspects of the personal and the socially responsible life.”–The Sylvanian (Pennsylvania Sierra Club Magazine) “On those days when I thought I was completely insane for taking such a risk– especially in this economy, I would often reference some pages…Your book was an incredible resource when I was trying to juggle many new hats and make this little endeavor a success.”–Melissa A. Gertz, Esq., Executive Director, Community Justice Center, Trenton, NJ “…A fascinating and fun journey of self-realization so that our vision can be realized.”–Jo Stepaniak, author or co-author of 16 books on compassionate, sustainable living “…Offers humor, stories, tips and techniques to assist you in your quest to be more authentic, true to yourself, and capable of impacting change...”–Patrick Williams, EdD, MCC, Founder of Institute for Coach Training, author, speaker, lifecoach “…A comprehensive and inspiring guide for socially conscious people…Wheitner’s unique background and training in public policy, counseling, and coaching enables him to address this topic in such a comprehensive manner.”–Karen Litzinger, MA, LPC, Owner, Litzinger Career Consulting “…A wealth of tools, information, and honest personal experience covering many largely neglected topics…It empowers those with a high level of social consciousness to become more effective and engaged, while also encouraging deeper awareness in areas they may not have considered.”–Robbie Ali, MD, MPH, MPPM “A thoroughly user friendly guide to being oneself and taking life how it should be taken –with a grain of salt and a dash of humor.”–Midwest Book Review
PART I: PREPARING TO GET NAKED
1. Why Is This Book for Me? 2. What Will I Obtain from This Book? 3. Benefits of Living Authentically
Time Wealth Happiness Benefits to others
4. Defining Idealist & Naked Idealist
Broad definitions Real-life lesson: Streaking on crutches The Myers-Briggs/Keirsey definitions Just for fun: Which type of not-yet-naked idealist are you?
5. Creating Space for Self-Development 6. Understanding Limitations of Problem Solving
PART II: BEING NAKED
7. Exposing Our Authentic Self: Purpose
What purpose is Why purpose is so important Defining our life purpose Peak experiences & childhood dreams
8. Exposing Our Authentic Self: Values
What values are Discerning between expressed values and needed values Why values are so important Real-life lesson: A foot between the bike wheel spokes Clarifying our top values Ranking the top 10 things we value An idealist’s dilemma: What if my values aren’t altruistic? Money: A value of particular interest for idealists
9. Exposing Our Authentic Self: Strengths
What strengths are Why strengths are so important Real-life lesson: An alligator, dog-bird, & kimono
Identifying our strengths Consider the transferability of strengths An additional step: Developing strengths
10. Accepting Self & Avoiding Perfectionism 11. Reviewing Our Authentic Self
PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED
12. Establishing Vision
What vision is Why vision is so important Guidelines for creating powerful, naked visions Real-life lesson: Not your average 10-year-old
13. Setting Up a Creative Framework
The power of tension Describing current reality Defining action steps: The strategy for getting there
14. Putting Our Visions to Work for Us
Reviewing the creative tension framework daily Avoiding denial of current reality Keeping ego out of our desired results Celebrating & enjoying the journey Avoiding holes of negativity Thinking rationally in the face of adversity Real-life lesson: A boat-car between two trees Managing unattained visions
15. Pursuing Larger Visions
Telescoping Working in groups
16. Which Vision First? Determining Priorities
Exercising choice Covey’s time management matrix Assessing contentment & organizing visions via a life wheel Keeping a “naked idea list”
17. Linking Personal & Community Visions
PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY
18. Abundance Versus Scarcity Thinking 19. Giving
20. Asking & Receiving
Giving to ourselves Real-life lesson: Bottles from Heaven
21. Transcending Our “PC Shoulds”
What are “PC shoulds”? Why we need to understand our “PC shoulds” Real-life lesson: Surviving a race riot Confessions of imperfection Moving forward
22. Relating to Others Despite Differences
Avoiding the “holier than thou” idealist label Political dialogue: Rising above the fray Meeting others where they are and planting seeds of change
23. Attracting Resources to Achieve Results
The Law of Attraction: A distraction? Communicating with others Understanding & leveraging social networks
24. Overcoming Fear of Success
Defining fear Assumptions that drive fear of success Alleviating our fears
25. Enhancing Health, Wellness, & Global Sustainability 26. Rethinking Burnout & Compassion Fatigue 27. Thoughts from Several Remarkable People
NEXT STEPS Express Yourself About the Author and Strategic Life Coaching Acknowledgments Notes Bibliography
"I have a vision of the world 1,000 years from now, where it would have fewer people, nature would be better protected, and the quality of human life would be better. I want to live my life to push things just a little bit in that direction. If the human race is a brain, and my life is one cell in the brain, and if I send out a certain neurochemical signal and enough other cells do the same, then someday, the brain may get this new idea." 1 The above statement is from Robbie Ali, one of the most visionary and inspiring people I’ve known. I had the privilege of working with Robbie on environmental public health projects for more than a year. He walks his talk, connects with his surroundings in various ways, and brings his visions of a better world to life. He does this all in a way that reflects many characteristics of naked idealism. He has a deep understanding of reality, gained from both life experience and an extensive formal education. While his approaches are grounded in this, he doesn’t allow it to keep him from dreaming big. Consequently, he has founded or volunteered on public health projects in countries around the globe including Haiti, Madagascar, India, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Jamaica, China, Rwanda and Indonesia.2 His efforts have benefited tsunami victims, environmental health researchers, urban farming advocates, and even low-income students from his high school. He does all of this despite barriers such as a lack of public understanding, limited human and financial resources, and large organizational bureaucracies. He also exudes a contagious passion and positive energy alongside his visions. This is another trait of a naked idealist. I recall a winter afternoon when I picked up the phone to an excited voice asking, “Dave, what’s up? I’m acquiring a threequarter-acre plot of vacant land that could tie into Pittsburgh’s community gardening endeavors. Do you want to come take a look at it? It’s got a lot of potential!” Finding his exuberance and his invitation to a mini-adventure hard to resist, I put on a few warm layers to brave the winter cold and grabbed the digital camera. Despite my own visionary nature, I had some serious doubts when we arrived at the site. Although much of it was pleasantly wooded, it was bordered by train tracks
and several deteriorating houses. Trash was intermittently strewn about along with a large number of tires. It would need some serious work. However, Robbie focused on the positives and began to create possibilities: “Those train tracks go all the way to the river; I used to walk alongside them. It’s a beautiful walk. Maybe it will be a trail someday...With those abandoned tires, you might even be able to build some type of small eco-friendly shelter or shed...The garden could go right over here...Maybe movement on this site will encourage someone to fix up these vacant houses...” Although I soon returned to graduate school to pursue additional training in psychology, I later spotted a local newspaper article describing several individuals and initiatives who had become involved in making the site a community resource. His vision, alongside his ability to authentically relate to the world, had attracted the people needed to help create a new reality. These same characteristics had inspired me even when our environmental health work together revolved around bleak and depressing aspects of our current world. Robbie is not the only person I know who embodies many aspects of naked idealism. The Rainbow Grannies, whom we’ll meet later, have not halted their civil rights quest despite obstacles including death threats. In fact, after bicycling across the continent, they expanded their energy to other causes, like building a home from recycled materials–entirely on their own. Jo Stepaniak, driven by her vision for a compassionate and sustainable world, has authored or co-authored 16 books supporting that vision. She has done this since a time when audiences for such work were incredibly small. Throughout this book, I mention several other inspiring people I’ve met, including words of wisdom from a few. These individuals also seem to keep most of their ego out of their work, focusing on end results. That’s yet another trait of a naked idealist. In fact, I was hesitant to mention their names here for fear that their humility might keep them from recommending my book to others. I hope that they still will, knowing that their examples may inspire many. Like all of these people, I hold idealistic visions of a sustainable and authentic world, and I wish to help create that reality. Like them, I also possess a strong sense of how much we are interdependent with all other life on our planet. This has been the case since I was quite young, when a cousin rescued me from drowning in the cold, chest-stinging water of a farm pond. While this is a relatively extreme
example, our lives are intertwined with myriad elements of our surroundings, and our existence depends upon our respect for them. However, I have often struggled to pursue my visions with the same level of commitment and energy as people like Robbie, Jo, and the Rainbow Grannies. I’ve felt that there are still a few things missing, and part of me wants to be selfish. I sometimes have difficulty integrating what I want in my own life and what I’d like to see in the world. I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the current state of global affairs, and I want to devote more time to the things I enjoy. I want to love life to the greatest extent possible every day. These pieces don’t always seem to fit together. I eventually realized that while Stacy rescued me from the murky water that nearly took my life many years ago, she could not save me from a death that many of us suffer every day–that of not being authentic. To be fully alive in a way that fulfills us and creates a sustainable world, we must understand who we are and proactively work to develop a life that honors this. As we begin to do so, elements of our lives and world may take on profoundly different meanings. For example, while water once represented danger in my childhood, it symbolizes life and energy in this book. I hope the chapters ahead empower you to be more like the naked idealists you’ve met, in the way that fits you best. Congratulations on having the courage to pursue what’s important to you!
PART I: PREPARING TO GET NAKED
es, this book involves getting naked. The most common and literal process of doing this entails removing one’s clothing to hop into the shower or climb into bed. Here, however, we’re referring to nakedness that means “without addition, concealment, disguise, or embellishment.”3 Achieving this type of bareness is much more rewarding, but also more challenging. Thus, a bit of prep work is required before we dive into things. Reading a book, especially one that invites you to participate in life-changing activities, is like taking an exciting journey. Before setting out on any adventure, it’s helpful to spend a little time planning so that you can enjoy the experience as much as possible. This is particularly true if you’ll eventually be traveling naked–although this style does have its advantages including a reduction in baggage. You may wish to consider the following:
• • • • • What are the ultimate destinations of your travels? What is the layout of the land? What attractions are along the way, and which may be most pertinent to you? What are you most likely to learn? What special language do you need to enjoy the trip?
Part I provides this information for our travels ahead.
Why Is This Book for Me?
This book is for you if you wish to make your personal life and the world more sustainable and authentic. This may seem challenging when powerful ideals and a deep concern for the world make it difficult for us to enjoy life–quite an irony if we desire to improve the quality of life for others. This book is for you if any of the following also seem to fit: • You’re a professional, student, leader or volunteer in an “idealist” career (health and human services, environmental issues, public policy, social justice, animal rights, creative arts, education, etc.) who often feels like a martyr. You love your paycheck, but your job or career isn’t the real you. In striving to live your ideals, you sometimes feel frustrated or isolated, like you’re on the wrong planet. You’re a concerned citizen or community leader who feels overwhelmed by problems of the world. You’re ready for a major life transition but are not yet sure where you wish to go. You fear ending up midway between Fumble and Buck! Somewhere along the way you abandoned ideals, dreams or artistic talents that were important to you. You’d like to revisit them. You’d like to separate what you really want to do from what you feel you should do. You want to relate to others more authentically and effectively.
• • •
PART I: PREPARING TO GET NAKED
You’d like to promote your ideals and achieve more impact in the world. You manage, own or work in an organization that provides socially or ecologically conscious products or services, or is moving toward this.
A sustainable life includes fun, fulfillment, balance, success and expression of what’s most important to us. Without these elements, it’s difficult to maintain energy over the long term. A sustainable world includes elements that contribute to a healthy, harmonious, peaceful and life-supporting existence: environmentally friendly practices, social justice, creative expression, and a deep respect for all living things, to name a few. Authenticity, a vital component of both, is full and honest expression of who we really are, through the activities we engage in, the visions we pursue, and the way we interact with others. Several key assumptions drive this book: • When we understand and honor our authentic selves, and proactively create what’s important to us rather than reacting to problems, we’re less likely to engage in socially and environmentally destructive consumption patterns. By clarifying and pursuing what we want more directly, we often reduce the need to seek materialistic replacements to fill the void. When we relate to ourselves and to the world honestly and authentically, we reduce prejudice, fear and unnecessary competition that often result in conflict and suffering. When we’re happy with our own lives, we’re better able to share our energy and gifts with others. We’re less likely to face burnout, and we can have greater positive impact in our career, hobbies, and volunteer activities.
If the previous thoughts strike a chord, we have a great deal to talk about, as I have struggled with many of these things myself–and still do. I share my thoughts with you not as an author who has completed a journey, but as a fellow learner in the continual process of striving to live more authentically myself. Writing this book has provided the courage to rekindle some long-delayed pursuits of childhood
dreams, and to address some areas where I’ve been “standing in my own way.” I hope that reading it has the same benefits for you. I’ve bounced among many idealist settings trying to find my niche: researching environmental public health issues, managing a citywide data system on child and family well-being, counseling formerly incarcerated men, and examining the outcomes of families leaving public assistance rolls, to name a few. In those activities, I often felt overwhelmed by the state of the world, not sure that I was making enough of a difference. I’ve also learned through the struggles of a few extended job searches and career transitions, and hold a special place in my heart for people striving to “find their place.” I’ve been quite an overachiever as well, always taking myself very seriously and setting exceptionally high self-expectations. My childhood was consumed with maintaining an image of consistent competence and proving my value to the world. I spent more time being a perfect student and people-pleaser rather than doing what I enjoyed. Although I always knew that I wanted to escape my low-income upbringing, I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go. Or perhaps I always had a pretty good idea, but just wasn’t willing to listen to myself yet. Because of this, I had no way of gauging if and when I was doing enough. This translated into a desire to be the perfect employee, and I worked very hard for the praise I often received. Alongside all of this, I often felt miserable, frustrated, lonely and unfulfilled. Over the last several years I’ve begun to move toward reconnecting with many of my ideals and living more authentically. This has required stepping outside the box (or outside the barrel), and it sometimes places me at odds with “the real world.” Some have questioned me for anti-status-quo behavior like riding a bicycle with metal studded snow tires on icy winter days, making America’s longestrunning annual “waffle party” entirely vegan, building a large rainwater irrigation system in our yard, or constructing odd looking sound baffles in our home to aid with music recording. However, it has all begun to increase my happiness. It is part of integrating and expressing the important pieces of my life in a more meaningful way. I hope that this book helps you to advance in a similar process!
Are you ready for an adventure?
PART I: PREPARING TO GET NAKED
What Will I Obtain from This Book?
This book draws upon knowledge from the coaching, counseling, management, organizational behavior, positive psychology, and peace psychology fields, weaving in my own background and experience in several disciplines. The primary focus is upon how to implement specific techniques, rather than upon the detailed background as to why they work. I am not attempting to hand you an overnight quick fix, but rather concepts to sustain you over the long term. It will require effort on your part. As the saying goes, “Prepare someone tofu and feed them for a day; teach them how to prepare tofu and feed them for a lifetime.” Here, you’ll be preparing some of your own tofu. My intent is that you be able to do the following by the last page: • • • • • • • • Understand some of the high costs of continuing to live sub-authentically. Describe the differences between a problem-solving approach and a proactive vision-based approach to creating positive change in your life and the world. Identify and understand key personal characteristics that set you apart from others. Communicate a sense of purpose that is true to your characteristics and experiences. Create and begin to pursue visions that build upon your authentic self. Utilize methods for handling adversity and self-imposed “thought obstacles.” Understand an approach for pursuing large and complex visions, and for connecting personal and community endeavors. Clarify motivations behind your interest in socially admirable causes, so that you don’t contribute to problems unintentionally.
Relate to the world in a manner that advances you toward your desired results, encourages growth, and respects diversity and personal differences.
Because there are several pieces to this process, it helps to have a relatively simple big picture of how it’s all connected. Naked Idealism is organized around the idea that our existence is based upon three aspects: being, doing, and having.4 Shakti Gawain discussed this model briefly in Creative Visualization, defining these elements as follows: • • • Being is “the basic experience of being alive...the experience of being totally complete and at rest within ourselves.” Doing is “movement and activity. It stems from natural creative energy.” Having is “the state of being in relationship with other people and things in the universe...the ability to allow and accept things and people into our lives; to comfortably occupy the same space with them.”
The above definition of having is likely very different than what the word generally brings to mind for you. We usually equate having with possessing something, but it goes well beyond that. For example, each of us may possess a car, but we may relate to that object very differently. I may use my car once a week, never taking the time to wash it, and the role it plays in my life is one of pure utility. On the other hand, you may depend much more heavily upon your car, utilizing it three times a day, and spending two hours each weekend seeing that it sparkles and shines. Unlike me, you may view the condition of the car you drive as an important reflection of your identity. Neither of us is “right” or “wrong,” but having a car is very different for both of us. It really depends upon each of our sets of values and priorities, and what we each want out of life. Gawain explains that we often “live life backwards,” first striving to have more resources (e.g., money) so that we can do what’s important to us, which will then finally enable us to be happier. This leads, for example, to individuals working extra hard their whole lives at “just good enough” jobs to save for retirement, only to discover that they’ve never really found fulfillment.
PART I: PREPARING TO GET NAKED
The key to lasting happiness is the exact opposite: If we make efforts to discover and be who we truly are, we’ll develop the foundation to do what’s truly important to us, which will then enable us to have more of what we want in life.
In other words, we often engage in this pattern: having doing being when this would make us much more fulfilled: being doing having This often occurs because we attempt to fulfill our most fundamental needs and desires in roundabout and ineffective ways. We’ll discuss this more later.5 What are some of the more specific concepts we’ll cover under each of the three areas? The chapters in Part II focus on the self-understanding necessary for being, addressing the following topics: What are the characteristics of an idealist, and what is a naked idealist? What do we mean by purpose, values and strengths, the elements that make up our authentic self or foundational core? Why are they important and how can we clarify and expose each of them? Part III provides some tools for doing or creating what’s important to us, leveraging knowledge of our authentic self from Part II. It provides guidelines on creating highly effective visions of the results we want, outlines how to set up a “creative tension” framework for pursuing them, and delineates a technique for connecting large and complex visions to smaller and more concrete ones. The latter enables us to place our personal endeavors into the larger context of creating a better world, so we can lead a more integrated and less overwhelming life. We also discuss how these techniques can apply to working with groups. Part IV focuses on having. After exposing our authentic self and learning a framework for doing that aligns with this, we look beyond ourselves. To be fulfilled and successful, we need effective ways to relate to the world and its resources, handle differences in a constructive and respectful fashion, express our ideals, and plant “seeds of change.” This part also challenges us to examine parts of ourselves that may make us uncomfortable in the shorter term but much more authentic and impactful in the longer term.
Figure 1: How It All Fits Together
The above symbol consists of three people standing in rain barrels, connected by a hose. This analogy is used for several reasons: • It represents a youthful playfulness and creativity that we frequently lose as we grow older, and often yearn to rediscover. As we’ll see, our childhoods sometimes hold the greatest hints to our true, authentic selves. A rain barrel provides life sustaining water only after it has filled. Much of this book is about “filling our own cups” so that we may overflow with life energy and inspiration for others. 6
PART I: PREPARING TO GET NAKED
The circular hose illustrates that being, doing, and having feed into one another, and that the process of mastering them can be cyclical. We don’t need to fully “complete” one stage before moving on to the next, and we must often flow back and forth between them. Also, we are all interconnected and interdependent. Wearing only barrels, the Rain Barrel People represent the nakedness or authenticity we seek to attain. While the rain barrels represent environmental sustainability, the multiple colors of the Rain Barrel People symbolize another key component of sustainability: diversity in race, gender, sexual orientation, spiritual beliefs, and so on.
Benefits of Living Authentically
Howard Thurman, a philosopher, theologian, and civil rights leader, conveyed the value of authenticity when he urged, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” As idealists, we see the interconnectedness of the world, and thus frequently ask what it needs to make it a better place. I’m by no means suggesting that we drop the important causes for which we stand and enter an existence of complete selfishness. I am suggesting that we more intentionally focus upon activities and causes that resonate most closely with our authentic self, rather than compromising ourselves. Identifying the components of our core and adopting a more vision-based approach will help us to “come alive.” Below are just a few benefits of living more authentically.
Living more authentically means that we spend more time doing what we enjoy, be it work or leisure. This is particularly pertinent in an era where hustle and bustle are the norm. Even workers in many developed countries are spending more time on the job than ever before, creating great concerns about work and life balance.7 Many individuals feel they just don’t have enough time to do the things that are most important to them. Let’s begin with some basic math. Suppose that you don’t really care for your job that much, you work roughly 40 hours per week, and you stay at the job five years past the time you started to dislike it. That’s 40 hours per week x 50 weeks per year x 5 years = 10,000 hours of time you’ve given up by the time you leave that job. Imagine the many things you could do with all those hours! What would you do?
PART I: PREPARING TO GET NAKED
Research suggests that groundhogs, on average, have significantly more leisure time than humans.
For idealists, it may also be difficult to say “no” to anything that will help others, especially when we’re around people who seek assistance with their own powerful visions. This is true even when their requests may drain energy from us. However, what if we had the clarity and focus to recognize that saying “no” to one request would increase our time and ability to say “yes” to others? Could we serve the world in a capacity that’s more in line with our purpose, values, strengths, and vision? Might that make us even more fulfilled, powerful, and energetic? I certainly think so.
Learning to live more authentically can provide a number of benefits related to wealth–not only in the financial arena, but in a more holistic sense. When we’re doing what we enjoy, and what fits our values and life purpose, we’re more motivated and productive. We naturally “go the extra mile” without it seeming like extra effort, and because we’re more energetic and enthusiastic, we are more likely to attract the resources we need. This will make us more successful in our lives and in our careers, which often equates to various types of wealth, depending upon what we value and seek. This is not ignoring money altogether; as we’ll discuss later, giving can actually make us financially wealthier.
Getting more in touch with what we really value gives us the clarity to reexamine where we devote our financial resources. We may change our entire relationship with money. As with our time, we can determine with more certainty where to say “yes” and “no,” ensuring that our expenditures are aligned with what we want. This is in stark contrast to the current norm, where many people’s spending is not at all aligned with their values.8 When we feel anxious and uncertain about our identities, we often engage in excess materialism in an attempt to create feelings of security.9 This then places us on a “hedonic treadmill,” where we buy status or luxury items in an attempt to disguise our pain, enjoying the temporary happiness they seem to bring.10 But the discomfort usually doesn’t go away, because we have to work more to pay for our additional belongings. So we buy more, work more, buy more, and the downward spiral continues. This overconsumption harms us individually and adversely impacts the entire planet.11 This relates to the aforementioned human tendency to pursue some of our primary needs indirectly, attempting to have-do-be rather than be-do-have. For example, rather than pursuing love or intimacy by simply being ourselves, we may adopt the strategy of seeking materialistic belongings, believing that they will enable us to obtain what we value even more–in this case, love and intimacy. The truth may be that we don’t feel close to others simply because we’re not being authentic. By living more authentically as a strategy for improving our “relate-ability,” we take a simpler, more efficient, and more direct approach. Then if we decide we still wish to pursue monetary wealth, it is more likely to be because we truly do need it to create something important. While running a therapy group in an addictions recovery program, I posed a question to a participant who had commented that the program was “too challenging,” that he didn’t feel he had the stamina to succeed. I asked him to tell me about a time when he expended great efforts to obtain his drug of choice, and he recounted marching up and down a large hill a dozen times in the freezing snow. Due to significant obesity and other health issues, this participant had difficulty scaling one flight of stairs, so this would have represented very significant effort for him. I expressed that I was impressed with how much determination this must have taken, and he wholeheartedly agreed. I then asked him to imagine the possibilities if
PART I: PREPARING TO GET NAKED
he were to apply that same effort to giving himself the positive attention he deserved, to defining and creating the things he really wanted out of life. Think about those places where you’ve made the most impressive expenditures of effort and money in your life. What if you had the clarity to direct the same energy toward those things most important to you? Living more authentically enables us to recognize, understand, and honor what we value–money and otherwise–and to make intentional life choices in line with that. Later, we’ll discuss our values and assumptions surrounding money in more depth.
This is key for those of us who dream of a better world, given that burnout and compassion fatigue are common among those in idealist fields.12 Martin Seligman, one of the central figures of Positive Psychology, discusses three different approaches to happiness: the pleasant life, the engaging life, and the meaningful life. He defines each as follows:13 • • Pleasant life: “Having as many pleasures as possible, and having the savoring and mindfulness skills to amplify the pleasures.” Engaging life: “Knowing what your signature strengths are, and then recrafting your work, love, friendship, leisure, and parenting to use those strengths to have more flow in life.” (Flow is a state of being completely absorbed and enjoyably engaged in an activity, where one loses track of time.) Meaningful life: “Using your signature strengths in the service of something that you believe is larger than you are.”
According to Seligman’s research, those who pursue happiness only through the pleasant life approach (e.g., pursuit of immediate gratification and materialistic rewards) don’t usually find the lasting satisfaction experienced by those who also pursue happiness through the latter two approaches. This is not to say it’s always wrong to seek a pleasant life, as it’s arguably something that adds important spice and variety to life. Mindless fun and celebration are important in moderation. However, that approach alone is generally insufficient. If viewed alongside the
being-doing-having framework, we can see why: the pleasant life is primarily about having, whereas the engaging and meaningful lives are more about the prerequisite being and doing. We can gain deeper and more lasting fulfillment through taking on challenges such as striving to define who we are, and creating a life and world in line with this. This book is devoted to helping you find lasting happiness and fulfillment. Viewed through Seligman’s lens, Part II discusses strengths and other authentic self factors necessary to follow the engaging life approach, while Part III outlines some tools for placing smaller visions and endeavors into the context of larger visions and causes (the meaningful life approach). Part IV discusses how our connections with the world around us can make our lives even more meaningful. Given idealists’ tendency to be overly serious at times, we’ll include occasional reminders to weave in the pleasant life as well. Living more authentically can add engagement and meaning to a range of personal life areas, depending upon our personal wants and goals. To name a few, this may include career, finances, relationships, recreation, physical environment, personal development, and spirituality.14 We’ll add more later.
Benefits to others
As noted earlier, a key assumption underlying this book is that getting to know ourselves and becoming fulfilled in our own lives will also maximize our positive impact in the world. When we honor who we are, we will then have more energy to give to other people, because our own needs will already be met. This same logic can also be applied at an organizational level–for example, Hildy Gottlieb begins a nonprofit fundraising guide with a chapter entitled “Know Yourself.”15 Marianne Williamson also describes how living to our fullest can benefit others. Even if your spiritual beliefs do not include the concept of a deity, the remainder of this oft-cited passage still holds great value: “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented, and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about
PART I: PREPARING TO GET NAKED
shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”16 In other words, it is our duty to live to our full potential, to utilize our unique set of talents and interests. By doing so, we not only help others through the intended direct results of our efforts, but we also serve as an inspirational model of powerful behavior. How else can living more authentically benefit others? First, a reduction in excessive materialism as noted above minimizes a range of environmental, economic, health, and mental health impacts.17 A more balanced lifestyle equates to less haste and waste–e.g., making three gas-guzzling shopping trips per week because we didn’t take the time to plan well for one, eating heavily-packaged fast food in the car rather than cooking at home, and so on. Also, as we become more attuned to our purpose, values, and strengths, we have more courage and decisiveness to “break out of the box” and create positive and lasting change in the world. If we do not possess an authentic foundation for forming visions so that we can move forward purposely and proactively, what choices are we left with other than the following? • • We can live according to visions others have already established for us, regardless of how they mesh with our authentic selves. We can behave reactively as problems and undesirable situations arise.
I don’t know about you, but I find neither of these choices to be very attractive. I think I’ll choose the alternate route of developing my authentic foundation. If we occupy a leadership position, or aspire to one, our authenticity can serve as a model to others, permeating organizational culture, and improving relationships, communication, and innovation. Authenticity also inspires trust, increasing others’ desire to join us in our endeavors. Furthermore, when our visions stem from our true selves, we can communicate them more powerfully, inspiring others even more.18 On some level, you were likely attempting to determine how
authentic I am when you first picked up this book. This, in turn, drove your decision to invest some time and money in hearing my ideas. We apply a similar logic in decisions to invest our energy in following leaders, be it a supervisor, a political candidate, a school teacher, a parent, or an author.
PART I: PREPARING TO GET NAKED
Defining Idealist & Naked Idealist
Before proceeding, I include a disclaimer: like many of you, I tend to dislike labels, and I pride myself in defying stereotypes. We can change in significant ways, and how we define ourselves is up to us. Although I was always very studious in school, I also engaged in many “trendy” activities such as performing vocal percussion and hip-hop dancing. Although I was relatively non-social and unpopular in my early years of school, I later became vice-president of my school class. Although I was often chosen last for dodgeball and kickball games, I later bicycled across the continent and now exercise regularly. I wholeheartedly encourage you to live outside the realm of stereotypes and labels, and don’t allow them to limit you. That being said, categories and labels do sometimes allow us to organize our self-understanding so we can determine the best way to move forward. The recommended assessments in Part II utilize a number of them. Categories and labels can also help us to locate people like ourselves so we can learn from their sometimes-similar struggles. We are connecting through this book because you identified with one or more of the labels on its cover, or in a description you read. Because we share some common characteristics and values, we have much to gain from one another. Let’s get to the definitions. In its broadest sense, an idealist is someone who frequently entertains ideas about how our life and the world around us might be different–possibilities of how things could be in an ideal world. We also strive for authenticity in our thinking and actions, and we seek to create a world where others can live authentically. The spark of change often begins with idealists. Sadly, many idealists never communicate or bring to life some of
their best ideas, or never even develop visions based upon them. They simply remain frustrated that the world is not as they wish. While each of us defines our own ideals and visions, I am personally most committed to maximizing the potential of those whose values include social and ecological consciousness. This is closely aligned with the definition implied by idealist.org, whose vision includes “a world where people can lead free and dignified lives.”19 It also meshes with the principles of several spiritual philosophies. I share those of Unitarian Universalism as one example later. Because idealists spend significant time considering the “big picture” complexities of how everything fits together, we see many problems and possibilities that others miss. In fact, we may focus so much attention upon larger issues that we ignore ourselves and our personal futures. As living authentically is also very important to us, this can decrease our satisfaction and fulfillment, and it can decrease the energy we have to create what we care about the most. Life’s too short for that! Because we think differently, implementing our lofty ideas often means challenging the status quo. Being creatures of habit, we humans don’t always like change. Consequently, the term idealist doesn’t have positive connotations for everyone. To some, it suggests a person who doesn’t always play well with others in the sandbox or who doesn’t accept the norm. Freedictionary.com defines an idealist as “one whose conduct is influenced by ideals that often conflict with practical considerations,” or “one who is unrealistic and impractical; a visionary.” This suggests that pursuing one’s visions is likely to result in failure, which is clearly not always the case. While it is true that breaking out of the box can take significant energy and effort, such definitions discourage people from thinking beyond current reality. If we didn’t do so, how would we ever progress? As Ralph Waldo Emerson advises, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Idealists often feel pressured to compromise our visions in order to meet our needs for acceptance. We may abandon our dreams in favor of a seemingly more pragmatic approach. We may find it easier to play it safe and live within the confines of the existing system, rather than taking social and economic risks. If I hadn’t chosen to do the latter, this book would not exist.
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We must build a particularly strong sense of self so that we don’t simply take the easy road and march to the beat of everyone else’s drum. If we do the latter, we may never feel satisfied, as there will be a large gap between where we are and where we’d like to be. We would be incongruent or out of integrity. This brings us to the definition of a naked idealist. This is someone who has learned to exist, act, and relate in an authentic, sustainable, joyful and impactful way. More specifically, we are practicing naked idealism when: • • We have removed facades to fully understand, accept, and expose our authentic self. We drive our actions via the powerful pull of “naked visions” stripped of the constraints of current reality, yet strongly grounded in our authentic self. We still respect current reality as we move forward, but we do not allow our judgments of how it should be to paralyze or overpower us. We relate to the world in a manner that reflects our authentic self, supports creation of our desired end results, and respects the interconnectedness among everyone and everything.
Naked idealism is not a final end state, where we wake up one morning and exclaim, “Okay, I’m there. All done now!” Rather, it is a continuous process where there is always room for self-improvement. In striving for this, it’s helpful to keep in mind some of the individuals whom we believe best reflect the above characteristics. This is different for each of us, but it might include Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rachel Carson, a media personality like Oprah, a founder of a major religion, a visionary entrepreneur like Bill Gates, an artist who is living their dream, or people who joyfully share their energy every day but may never receive public recognition for their efforts.
Real-life lesson: Streaking on crutches
Most of us find it easier to act authentically with our clothes on, and do not take the “naked” part of naked idealism literally. In fact, the thought of bareness makes many
people uncomfortable. For a friend of mine, however, literally being naked was a part of expressing his authentic self. He exhibited courage and determination in doing what was most important to him, despite some obstacles and the potential disapproval of others–characteristics of a true naked idealist. One school I attended holds an annual “streak” where students jog across campus wearing nothing more than shoes and eyeglasses. Scott had looked forward to the event for weeks. However, he had badly injured one of his legs and had to use crutches for the next month. This made jogging alongside the rest of the crowd impossible. Scott spent some time agonizing over his dilemma, but in the end his vision triumphed. He decided that nothing was going to hold him back. The day of the event, he joined the rest of the crowd at the starting line. He stripped, stuffed his clothes into his backpack, and boldly picked up his crutches to await the signal. At the shout of “Go!” the rest of the crowd nervously sprinted toward the finish line to re-dress as quickly as possible. Scott proudly hobbled along behind them, naked and alone, his determination strong. An audience of hundreds of students warmly cheered him on as he completed roughly 200 yards. He nervously smiled back, occasionally pausing to wave. Although many made fun of him for doing something so bold, he quickly became somewhat of a campus legend. He had exhibited the courage to do whatever it takes, even if it made him vulnerable. Fittingly, “Scott” now lives near Austin, Texas, where the weather is much more conducive to streaking. Rumors suggest that a few years after the original streak, he and several others even bicycled a “naked mile” through a Midwestern state–no crutches this time around. Hats and pants off to this true naked idealist. The next time you need a motivational push to pursue a difficult challenge, imagine that you are Scott setting out on a 200-yard trek with crutches–but this time you’re clothed and everyone in the audience is naked, except for the large red clown noses they’re wearing. Isn’t life easier now? (Actually, I think I’d still be moving along pretty quickly on those crutches.)
PART I: PREPARING TO GET NAKED
The Myers-Briggs/Keirsey definitions
One of the most formal and detailed definitions of idealist comes from the cumulative work of Carl Jung, Katharine Cook Briggs, Isabel Briggs Myers, and David Keirsey.20 They explain that we each have a set of personality “preferences” regarding how we think and behave. Knowing our preferences can help to determine what types of tasks and environments are the best fit for us. Two commonly used personality assessments, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Keirsey Temperament Sorter II, are based upon their theories.21 If you’d like to explore your personality type further, you can take the latter assessment online at advisorteam.org. A free “mini feedback report” and several levels of paid feedback reports are available, depending upon how much information you wish to obtain. According to these models, combinations of preferences yield 16 possible personality types. These seem to cluster into four larger groups that share a number of characteristics.22 One of these groups is the idealists. You may find that the below description of an idealist fits you to a T, or you may find that only small parts seem to describe you. Even if the latter is true, don’t despair. You’ll still find most of this book very pertinent, as it is geared toward the relatively broad audience of idealists as defined previously. Here’s Keirsey’s definition: “The idealists’ temperament have an instinct for interpersonal integration, learn ethics with ever increasing zeal, sometimes become diplomatic leaders, and often speak interpretively and metaphorically of the abstract world of their imagination…They are proud of themselves in the degree they are empathic in action, respect themselves in the degree they are benevolent, and feel confident of themselves in the degree they are authentic…[They] search for their unique identity, hunger for deep and meaningful relationships, wish for a little romance each day, trust their intuitive feelings implicitly, aspire for profundity...This is the ‘Identity Seeking Personality’...their preferred time and place are the future and the pathway.”23 Does the above sound like you? According to Keirsey, idealists may be the rarest form of personality, making up only 10% or less of the population. Thus, it’s particularly important that each of us lives as authentically as possible. Also, it’s no
wonder many of us feel like we’re on the wrong planet! In fact, idealists are the only group not yet represented by an American President.24 When I learned all of this, it explained why I often feel “apart from the crowd.” An old friend, more traditional in his views, asked me, “Why do you always have to try to be different?” I kindly explained that I don’t really need to try.25
Just for fun: Which type of not-yet-naked idealist are you?
Alongside the more formal method for categorizing personality above, I’ve included a more humorous and entertaining alternative for determining your “non-naked idealist” type. Consider your own tendencies as you read through the examples below, and note the suggestions regarding which aspects of the book are particularly likely to be beneficial. The wearing-too-many-hats idealist (a.k.a. the overwhelmed idealist) The world seems so full of problems needing your attention that you often have difficulty saying “no,” or even knowing when to say “yes.” You wish to focus more, so you can see results and attain a balanced and integrated life. Keeping track of all your hats is especially difficult on windy days. Pay particular attention to the Part II exercises related to prioritizing values and determining strengths. Those will help you to identify where you can most effectively focus your energies. The Part III techniques for “telescoping” will help you to determine how smaller requests and tasks fit into your big-picture priorities. The carrying-others’-coats idealist (a.k.a. the martyr idealist) While you enjoy aspects of your work and non-work activities, and believe they’re very important, you’re sometimes resentful. It often seems like others are enjoying life while you’re busy shouldering others’ burdens. With 10 coats, the days when the weather is nicest may be the hardest to enjoy.
PART I: PREPARING TO GET NAKED
Learning to identify what you value in Part II will enable you to select and engage in activities that you enjoy, so that you’re meeting your own needs and won’t feel like you’re always “sacrificing.” The Part II section on perfectionism and the Part IV section on asking and receiving may also be pertinent. The wearing-pants-that-don’t-fit idealist (a.k.a. the mismatched idealist) While you feel you’re doing important things in the world, the types of activities in which you’re engaged don’t feel that comfortable to you, i.e., they don’t really fit your sense of purpose and talents. It’s kind of like trying to run a race in pants that are too tight, just because you think they look fashionable–ouch! Once you discover the right track, nothing will be able to stop you. If this description fits you, the Part II sections on exposing your authentic self and the related exercises should be very valuable. The but-I-spent-so-much-on-this-outfit idealist (a.k.a. the attached-to-the-past idealist) Like the mismatched idealist, you’re tired of your outfit, and it’s increasingly uncomfortable–but you don’t want to give it up because it took so-o-o-o much time and effort to obtain. The cost of letting some or all of it go seems unbearable, even though you know it might be necessary for your happiness. You may not be the first to dream of leaving an M.D./Ph.D./J.D. program to become a rock star. Under the Part III section on the creative tension framework, pay particular attention to the suggestions for describing current reality. The wear-a-tux-to-the-disco idealist (a.k.a. the buzz-kill idealist) As most idealists, you care deeply about the state of the world, and you express this openly, frequently, and seriously. Beneath the surface, you’d like to have more fun, “dressing down” to show your less serious side more often. It’s difficult to loosen up and show off your well-executed dance moves when you’re stiffly dressed in a tuxedo. This extends to other settings as well: You’re the one who always initiates a
conversation on global poverty while your friends are trying to watch the humorous Super Bowl commercials. After completing the exercises on values and strengths in Part II, consider whether you’re expressing all of them. Pay particular attention to the Part IV section on “PC shoulds” to ensure that you’re honestly expressing your values, and consider alternative options for giving in Part IV, to see if any of them may add fun to your life. The pack-clothing-for-every-possibility idealist (a.k.a. the bogged down by fear idealist) This is similar to the overwhelmed idealist, but with an added element of pessimism. You’ve entertained visions you’d love to pursue, but limit the possibilities due to predictions of where the world may be as a result of global warming, rising energy costs, overpopulation, conflict, and other issues. You carry an increasingly heavy mental suitcase, possibly full of items you don’t even want. Be sure to grasp the limitations of a problem-focused approach later in Part I, and understand how it differs from the more optimistic approach outlined in Part III. Also consider whether vision or current reality drives you as you read Part III, and pay special attention to the concept of abundance in Part IV.
PART I: PREPARING TO GET NAKED
Creating Space for Self-Development
In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow hypothesized that we must meet our most basic or “lower level” needs in the pyramid below before we can effectively address higher level values.26
Figure 2: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: We must meet basic needs before effectively pursuing higher values27
If we’re distracted by serious concerns for physiological well-being and safety, we won’t be able to focus on the realm of psychological development and
enhancement. For example, if we’ve just lost a job and aren’t sure how we’re going to make the next payment on our apartment or home, or if we live in a neighborhood where our children are at risk of being injured, we’ll probably have limited energy to think about methods for increasing our confidence and creativity. Edward Zigler, a former mentor who is often called “the father of Head Start,” explained that the above was a driving philosophy behind this nationwide preschool program for low-income children. In addition to learning opportunities, the program provides services such as physical health assessments. Only once children have an environment that meets their basic needs can they focus upon higher-order activities such as learning and development. A similar rationale applies to adults. Most of this book focuses upon the higher levels of the pyramid. Thus, if you find yourself struggling to meet many of the lower-level needs, you may wish to take necessary action to achieve stability in those areas before proceeding with work here. If, on the other hand, you have a sense of discontentment and readiness for change, but are meeting most of your basic survival needs, then it is up to you to create the space necessary to engage in the growth activities of this book. Should you feel that you’re meeting most of your basic survival needs, but still seem to have trouble making time for yourself, you may try what many life coaches call decluttering. An even better way to think of this is “creating space for energy givers.” Try the following exercise.
Exercise: Replace Energy Drainers with Energy Givers
• • On a sheet of paper, make two columns. Label the left one “energy givers” and the right one “energy drainers.” In the “energy givers” column, list 10 to 20 activities, people, places or things that increase your vitality–they can be things that are already a part of your life, or things that you are currently lacking and want to increase in your life. For example, this might include eating at your favorite restaurant once a week, spending two hours at a café with your best friend, working out at the gym, and so on.
PART I: PREPARING TO GET NAKED
In the “energy drainers” column, list 10 to 20 activities, people, places or things that frequently seem to zap your energy and enthusiasm, and that you’d like to decrease in your life. This might include cleaning your house or apartment, spending weekend time responding to e-mail, or watching T.V. for two hours each night.
Choose one or two of the energy drainers you’d like to eliminate or reduce over the next two weeks, and choose one or two of the energy givers to fill the space you’ve just created for yourself. Be specific about how much you plan to reduce and increase each item, so that you know when you’ve been successful. For example, don’t simply say, “I will hang out in front of the T.V. less and at the gym more.” Simply spending five fewer minutes in front of the T.V. and one more minute at the gym over two weeks would qualify, but would probably not be what you really want. Instead, try something like, “Over the next two weeks I choose to spend five less hours hanging out at home in front of the T.V., and five more hours working out at the gym.”
Notice how it feels just to make this choice, and then how it feels to actually do it. Don’t forget to keep daily track of your progress on a calendar or sheet of paper. Simply note how much time you spent on each new energy giver, and how much time you spent on the energy drainer it was intended to replace.
In two weeks, note how much you’ve increased and decreased your target activities. Did you reach your goals? Even if not, how far did you get? In following weeks, you might do additional work on the same items to increase/decrease them further, or move on to additional items on the list. I hope that one of the energy givers on your list will be reading this book!
After successfully replacing a few items, what changes do you notice in your mood and energy levels?
Understanding Limitations of Problem Solving
Unfortunately, we frequently take a reactive or fear-based approach to changing our lives and the world, struggling only to get rid of what we don’t want rather than proactively pursing what we do want.28 We wish to solve problems, but this approach can severely hinder us–both on an individual and organizational level. As Gottlieb asks of nonprofits, “Are we aiming at an ending or a beginning? Are we aiming all our energies and resources at ending something bad, or at creating something incredible?”29 To understand how these different approaches impact us, try this exercise developed by Bruce Elkin.30 It works best if you complete each step before reading further.
Exercise: Problem versus Vision
• Start by thinking about a problem that bothers you, either in your own life or in the larger world, that you’d really like to solve. Spend at least two or three minutes thinking about this problem–really visualize it in your mind. Write down a brief description of it on a sheet of paper if you need to. • Now note how you feel, both physically and emotionally. Pay attention to your posture, energy level, and state of muscle relaxation or tension. Has thinking about the problem spurred any additional thoughts, either positive or negative? • Now envision something that you do want. What will it look and feel like when you have it? Again, write some details if you need to, and spend two or three minutes thinking about it. • Again, note how you feel physically and emotionally, observing your posture, energy and state of relaxation or tension. How is this different than you felt after thinking about the problem?
PART I: PREPARING TO GET NAKED
Most likely, thinking about what you do want is more energizing, and it probably opens your brain to more possibilities. As you read on, keep your selfobservations in mind. Later we’ll be talking in much greater detail about how to visualize what we do want. Elkin outlines several reasons why the traditional problem-solving approach is usually inferior to a vision-based approach. First, as illustrated above, it depresses us. This, in turn, wastes valuable energy that we don’t then have available for achieving results. Secondly, as we reactively seek to obtain relief through problem-solving, we may simply oscillate between different values, so that we never feel like we have everything we want. An example of this is the following: • • We quit a high profile, long-hours, high-paying job for a less stressful, regularhours, lower-paying job to spend more time with our family. Eventually, we start feeling insecure about our status, so we attempt to compensate by purchasing showy big-ticket items that otherwise wouldn’t be that important to us. We rarely watch television, but that large plasma T.V. sure would impress the friends! Or, we realize that the lower pay won’t even allow us to buy the things that really are important to us–for example, perhaps we’ve always enjoyed collecting rare novelty hats and wearing designer perfumes, and we feel deprived now that we have to cut back on those activities. Next, we determine that we need much more money to pay for all of it. We take on a second part-time job and fret that we have too much stress and too little time with our family all over again.31
Several values are at play here, including time for family, mental well being, social status, and leisure activities. In Part II we’ll begin to address this type of conflict by clarifying our top values and how we prioritize them in relation to one another. More importantly, notes Elkin, we often fail to differentiate between two types of problems: convergent challenges and divergent challenges. Convergent challenges are those that have a single, relatively straightforward answer or solution. An example of this is a broken part in a refrigerator. If we ask several repair people
how to fix it, their responses will converge or come together, with most variations among their answers being relatively minor. “You need to take the fifteen screws out of the pump’s flux capacitor, remove it, and put in a new one,” most of them tell us. There simply aren’t that many ways to fix it. Traditional problem-solving approaches work well with this type of issue. Divergent challenges, on the other hand, are more open-ended and have no simple solution, e.g., how to raise a child. A dozen experts will likely give us a dozen different opinions–the answers diverge from one another, making it very messy and confusing. Although many of life’s challenges fall into the divergent category, we erroneously attempt to apply a traditional problem-solving approach to both types of issues. As a result, we tend to focus our energies on only one part of the complex issue at a time, vacillating between different needs and priorities. Career transitions are a divergent area where we often try to apply a problemsolving mindset. After a few years or even months at a particular job, we recognize that we are increasingly dissatisfied, and crave something different. We’re not quite sure what that perfect job would be, but we decide that the solution is simply to get another job, any job. We take action, sending out resumes, arranging interviews, and jumping into a new job without ever stepping back to look closely at ourselves. While we’ve run away from a few things that we don’t want, we may not have fully determined or pursued what we do want. The new job may introduce other features that we dislike just as much. A similar dynamic occurs when we react by hastily returning to school, hoping to “find our way” as we charge forward. I’ve done this. So why do we tend to spend so much time focused on problem solving? This likely varies by person, but it seems to be a bad habit that many of us have learned. It’s reinforced by media and other societal messages every day. Some argue that many industries, such as insurance, have a strong incentive to promote a fear-based approach. A vision-based approach, in contrast, pulls together and simplifies a great amount of complexity much like a music score pulls together an orchestra.32 When this vision-based approach is supported by our authentic self elements discussed in Part II, our motivation may lead us to new heights.
PART II: BEING NAKED
efore doing and having, we must focus upon being. Is it a coincidence that begin and being share the same letters? Perhaps not. Gawain’s definition of being, noted earlier, is “the basic experience of being alive...the experience of being totally complete and at rest within ourselves.”33 In order to achieve this state, we must gain a basic understanding of who we truly are,
exposing our authentic self–purpose, values, and strengths–and accepting each of these elements of our core. This generally takes patience, work, and guided self-reflection. Because this is part of a cyclical process, you may return to Part II for further clarity after practicing the concepts in Part III and Part IV. Learning to be may trigger small life transformations that add up over time, or it may lead to much more rapid and profound transitions. At a small art gallery in Pittsburgh, I had the opportunity to speak with photographer Subhankar Banerjee, whose award-winning views of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge have appeared in Congressional testimony on oil drilling, and in prominent museums including the Smithsonian. He spoke passionately but modestly about spending more than a year in a small tent and an occasional helicopter, with nothing but his photography gear and basic survival equipment. Alongside Subhankar’s tales of adventure and the truly stunning photos surrounding us, I was intrigued by the stark contrast from his previous life: he had obtained degrees in engineering and science, and had spent several years working in research laboratories. He then seemed to realize he wasn’t fully being himself, and took off to pursue his authentic dreams in the Arctic. After exposing his authentic self, he began to expose the world to vast amounts of natural beauty. Once you understand and honor your true self, what exciting things will you do? What will you bring into the world? It is time to get busy being!
PART II: BEING NAKED
Exposing Our Authentic Self: Purpose
What purpose is
Purpose is essentially the reason why we believe we are here, how we are called to be. In The Power of Purpose, Richard J. Leider defines purpose as our aim, our reason for getting up in the morning–our central core or essence. Even if you haven’t consciously discovered and articulated yours yet, chances are you’ve already been living it at some point in your life. For some of us, purpose takes on a strong spiritual tone, believed to be endowed by one’s Higher Power. For some of us, it comes from within or from another source. Students in my self-development course, with a range of spiritual beliefs, developed mission statements including “To bring glory to God every day” and “To create.” For each of us, the origin of purpose may be different. What is important is that it resonates with us and aligns with our own values and beliefs. Examples of purpose statements include the following:
• • • “To innovatively catalyze and create for a healthy and sustainable world” (my purpose statement, developed during life coach training). “To serve others with integrity and compassion” (from one of my graduate leadership students). “To provide environments where self-healing can occur” (from Leider).34
Purpose statements are often expressed as, “To [verb(s)]...” For example, “To communicate...” “To envision...” “To save...” “To construct...” “To enhance...” Note that complete purpose statements can be only a single phrase and verb, or they can consist of more than one phrase. However, the general consensus seems to be that “concise is best,” with some authors recommending statements of only two to four words. My purpose statement could be whittled down to “to catalyze and
create,” but I also like the latter portion because it incorporates some of my most important values. (Catalyze, by the way, means “to produce fundamental change in, or transform,” which is what I hope this book will do for you.)35 It can be very difficult to come up with a final version of your purpose statement on the first try; I know a few individuals who have revised theirs several times over several years. Even if you finish Part II with two or three possible purpose statements in mind, don’t worry; you can always narrow them down later.
Why purpose is so important
First, getting in touch with our purpose, or how we are called to be, helps to avoid “living our lives backwards.” As noted, we often try to have more things or money, in order to do more of what we want so we’ll be more content with our lives. However, when we focus on doing without considering who we really are, our actions may not be aligned with our authentic self. This decreases our energy and motivation levels, and may result in vacillating between different endeavors as discussed earlier. We generally do much better if we first try to be our true self, and then do what we want, so we can have and relate in a more fulfilling fashion. This type of living requires enough self-definition to think beyond how we currently label ourselves, and beyond how society encourages us to define ourselves. In Life-Work: A Career Guide for Idealists, William Charland reiterates the importance of engaging in metanoia, meaning “to think beyond” or “to have another mind,” as we consider career-related decisions. Ironically, we may frequently think outside the box when considering how our community and world could be much different, but we may rarely examine how much we operate our own lives based upon societal values and expectations. Purpose provides us with a foundation to step outside of this “autopilot” thinking and be truer to ourselves. During a career transition several years ago, I thought I was taking all the right steps, graduating with a perfect GPA from a highly competitive program, attending networking events, setting up informational interviews, volunteering, and so on. However, alongside occasional consulting projects, I created more than 20 different versions of my resume and applied for at least 100 positions. After several months, the few offers I received were for significantly less pay than I had earned before graduate school, in a city with a comparable cost of living. My partner, in contrast, had received multiple job offers before we even arrived in Pittsburgh, and many
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classmates had secured jobs soon after graduating. The harder I tried, the more desperate I became. I felt increasingly ashamed around my partner and embarrassed around our friends. What was I doing wrong? While I faced serious challenges such as a slow economy, I believe much stemmed simply from being out of touch with my purpose and values. If I wasn’t being authentic, then how could I identify what type of work or doing was in line with that? I was living in “reverse autopilot,” simply eager to have a job, title, and income to re-establish my identity as a productive wage earner as quickly as possible. My lack of authenticity was likely impacting my behavior– perhaps subtly, but likely enough to sabotage my efforts. Furthermore, I was spreading my energy in too many directions, which brings us to the next point. Purpose can also provide a consistency of focus. If an opportunity doesn’t seem to fit into our purpose, we may question whether it is worth pursuing. Thus, we can more easily decide where to devote our finite time and other resources. Beyond job seeking, by helping us to define what’s most important to us, purpose also guides us in developing powerful visions with a strong emotional component. Such visions are more difficult for us–and others–to resist. The rhetoric of Martin Luther King, Jr., which united large masses of people, offers examples of this. With a strong sense of purpose, we can attract people with similar purposes and mutually benefit one another. Without a sense of purpose, we may devote precious time and energy to visions that don’t even resonate with our values. Purpose enables us to connect with others in a mutually beneficial fashion. If we do not have at least some sense of purpose, we can be surrounded by an incredible wealth of resources but fail to take advantage of it. In boarding school and college, for example, I was frequently surrounded by highly talented faculty, classmates, and alumni. However, I hadn’t yet begun to clarify my purpose or the manner in which I wish to create things in my life and in the world. As I become clearer on this, I’m excited about the many ways I might reconnect with some of these individuals to co-create amazing things. Purpose helps us to keep an eye on our long-term priorities, enabling us to “stay on track” when unexpected adversity threatens to pull us in different directions. This is vital if we wish to create or inspire positive change, as change is not an automatic process for most people. It often triggers fear and anxiety.
Defining our life purpose
Here I blend ideas of several talented thinkers with some of my own:36
Exercise: Define Your Life Purpose
Option 1: Create your “peak experiences” timeline. On a large, blank sheet of paper, draw a timeline of your entire life including the youngest age you can remember, your present age, and your death. In between these points, list five to 10 major “peak experiences” in your life so far and five to 10 more you’d like to see going forward, all of which have at least one of the following characteristics: • • • • You consider it to be a major accomplishment. You’ve created something very important to you. You were having a great deal of fun. You were in a state of “flow;” i.e., you were deeply engrossed in what you were doing, time seemed to pass rapidly, and the activity seemed almost effortless.
After you’ve defined the “peak points” on your timeline, ask yourself the following question to help uncover your purpose: Why are these moments, accomplishments or creations important to you? If you have difficulty recalling those times in your life that were the most fun or the most rewarding, try some of the following: • Dig out any old pictures of yourself and also ask family members if they have any albums with pictures of you. Notice what types of activities you’re engaged in, what type of play you’re engaging in, and what types of settings seem to bring back the fondest memories for you. If your family saved any report cards or teacher’s reports, take a look at those. For example, I found a few high school reports where teachers commented on how much I loved to talk about psychology.
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Ask your family and old friends what types of toys you played with, and when you seemed to have the most fun. Were there any places you were always begging to go? What types of events seemed to excite you the most?
Option 2: Write your own eulogy. Ask yourself this difficult but thought-provoking question: If you could write your own eulogy and it could say only three things about you, what would they be? Why are these things important to you? Option 3: Consider your favorite topics. Think about topics you just can’t stop talking about at social gatherings–topics that may even keep you at the gathering much longer than you had intended. As with Option 1, ask yourself why these topics are so important to you. Is there a pattern or commonality that they share?37 Option 4: Ask your friends. Ask a few of your closest friends for their opinions regarding your purpose–others often see things you may not see in yourself. Option 5: Consider your purpose from a higher source. If you believe in a higher power or entity that assigns each of us a unique purpose in life, what do you believe that purpose to be? Option 6: Ask yourself the billion dollar question. Imagine you awakened tomorrow and discovered that you had just inherited a billion dollars–no strings attached. (Or two billion, if that’s not enough!) Earning a living is no longer a concern; all your financial needs are met. Name up to four or five activities you’d choose to engage in. Why would you choose these activities?
Option 7: Take your best guess (last resort). If you feel completely stuck in determining your purpose, pretend that you do know. What’s your best guess? Begin with a draft statement such as, “My purpose in life is to…” or “I am here to serve by...,” and then revise it by creating a segment each day over several days.38 Don’t worry about your entire life; just worry about that particular day. After a week or two, look for patterns and commonalities across the segments, and see if you can blend them into a more succinct statement.
Once you have a purpose statement that seems to fit, let it sit for a few days and return to it. Does it really seem to resonate with you? You may already have something that really shouts out to you, or it may take a few weeks. Some have cried tears of joy when they have the correct vision statement, while others have felt the need to call friends to share the news. Although I didn’t jump up out of my seat when I honed my purpose statement with my coaching instructor, I was certainly grinning from ear to ear. It was very exciting! Whatever the case, you’ll probably have a good sense of when you’re getting close with your purpose statement. You may have a sense that it clicks with you, or that many things have suddenly come together. You’ve begun to expose your authentic self! This increased awareness of how things connect in your life can guide you in creating future visions.
Peak experiences & childhood dreams
One of the most powerful exercises I completed during both my own coaching and coach training, in a few different forms, was an assessment of the enjoyable activities in which I’ve engaged since a very early age. Hopefully you’ll try at least one of the variations of the “peak experience” exercise noted above. This type of self-analysis, especially when supplemented with the listening and feedback of another person (because we all have our blind spots), is useful for much more than just identifying purpose. Thus, I give it additional attention here. First, it may remind us of activities we once enjoyed but gave up at some point. These are likely still a key part of us, and if we’ve attempted to push them aside, they may continue to compete for our energy. By identifying and honestly acknowledging these parts of ourselves, we may live more powerfully. As career
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counseling theorist Linda Gottfredson explains, we often allow life circumstances to discourage us from what we really want to do with our lives, and we instead compromise and settle for something that’s “good enough.”39 A review of peak experiences can also provide a powerful foundation of accomplishments to draw upon when pursuit of our visions presents us with challenges. When we’re in need of confidence, we can look back to our successes for clear evidence that we have already overcome many obstacles.40 Additionally, revisiting our past in this manner may allow us to reflect upon the period of time when we were likely the most honest with ourselves–as children. One Sunday I was sitting in the pews of Pittsburgh’s First Unitarian Church, where I was scheduled to facilitate my first coaching-related workshop a few weeks later. One member, a Carnegie Mellon professor named Randy Pausch, announced that his pancreatic cancer had returned. He would be moving away with his family so they could enjoy their last few months together. Amidst the tears, he exhibited exceptional optimism and authenticity. I had never spoken with Randy in person, but the energy he exhibited despite his prognosis impressed me. A few weeks later, someone at a social event asked if I had “heard the Professor Randy Pausch last lecture.” While the name sounded vaguely familiar, I didn’t connect the dots at first, and shook my head. Explaining that it related to the writing and coaching I was doing, she insisted that I view the online video of his lecture. She then broke out in tears and excused herself to be consoled by her partner. Her reaction certainly piqued my curiosity. I later Googled “Randy Pausch” and was quite surprised to see the familiar face. I was even more intrigued by the title of his video: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. Based upon a presentation that he had originally put together for his young children, it proved equally pertinent to adults. The famous “last lecture” had already been viewed online more than five million times, and Randy had since appeared on several national talk shows. His talk resonated with me, because I’m still rediscovering and moving toward some of my own childhood dreams. Coincidentally, his “last lecture” was the same night as my “first workshop” on a complementary topic just a few blocks away! It is very telling that an individual with advanced expertise in the specialized field of entertainment technology would choose such a topic. He could have easily given a talk based upon years of amassed high-level expertise in his chosen field. However, he thought that a different type of message was more important. Even
more telling is the massive amount of energy his lecture quickly generated overnight. Apparently a great number of us have an interest in living our childhood dreams, even if we aren’t yet doing so. As Randy modestly states on his website, “Rest assured; I’m hardly unique.” The pictures below illustrate me having peak experiences when I was younger–I went through a lot of old pictures for my self-assessment during life coach training. The first two motivated me to be more honest with myself about how much I enjoy music composition, and brought back a flood of memories.
The early experiences of a music composer For example, I would spend hours listening to my dad’s classic rock albums on the headphones, fascinated by the various sounds and rhythms. Later, I learned to connect cassette recorders to layer multiple levels of sound, using various household objects and toys to generate sound effects. Whenever we visited a local department store, I’d go directly to the electronics section and spend the entire time playing the keyboards. As one of the best “beatboxers” (vocal percussion performers) in my school, I competed in rhythmic showdowns in school hallways and bathrooms, and a musical group I formed with three friends received standing ovations at a talent show. In college, I would sometimes sleep only four or five hours a night on the weekends, staying awake to compose music.
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The energy that music often provides me with is difficult to describe in words. I was truly in a state of “flow,” completely absorbed in what I was doing, with little awareness of time. What activities in your life provide you with such energy? Are there any that played a major role in your childhood, but play a relatively minor role now? When do you plan to bring them back into your life? I could easily write three more paragraphs of examples. I include this detail to illustrate just how easily we can sweep aside significant portions of our lives. Despite all of the above historical evidence, I thought I could just push away the music-loving part of myself. Outside of composing several songs for our wedding, music continued to grow more distant. How was I able to ignore something so core to my being? Why did I need to revisit my childhood at all? Unfortunately, we can fool ourselves in many ways. Perhaps you’ll recognize some of my thinking below at play in your own life. For one, I feared I would never make any money at music, and I very much wanted to avoid the life of near-poverty that I had experienced growing up, so I immediately focused on having. How can I ensure that I have enough money and financial security to do the things I enjoy? Largely because of this, my academics always took top priority–even if they weren’t always leading toward something I loved. While I enjoyed learning, especially in my psychology courses, I didn’t allow myself to have nearly as much fun as I could have. I assumed that growing up wasn’t supposed to be about play, and I often envied those who seemed to have more materialistic wealth than I. If only I had been born into the same conditions, I lamented, I could do what I really wanted with my life. I also placed a lot of “shoulds” in my way. As a child, I was fortunate that my parents never pushed me into any career. However, I took on the role of the “hero child,” the family member who would go on to do something highly visible and important, making the family proud. While this led me into several very interesting jobs, it also led to a lot of “false starts,” or relatively short-lived job experiences. The pattern would go something like this:
• • Find a job with relatively high pay or an important-sounding job function or title. Increase pay and/or responsibility level.
Leave the job because there are aspects of it that I don’t like that well, or because it’s now beginning to interfere with my time to do other things.
As suggested earlier, we often oscillate between competing priorities if we don’t structure them in a way that enables us to move forward.41 Exposing one’s purpose, values, and strengths helps to unite some of these areas, and additional integration occurs when we’re doing. I hadn’t initially considered the extent to which music composition is also a form of “innovatively creating and catalyzing” alongside many of my seemingly disparate endeavors. I also hadn’t considered ways in which my interests might be interconnected to advance the cause of “a healthy and sustainable world.” As I began to move forward on endeavors such as creating this book and revisiting my music, I generated some ideas for linking these areas in meaningful ways. For example, I already have one song that relates to some of the themes of Naked Idealism. Some of my giving up on my dreams also had to do with perfectionism. I did attempt music lessons on a few occasions, but had already developed some composing and improvising skills by teaching myself music theory. Learning to read music felt like going back to square one, and lessons made me feel that I wasn’t yet that good at what I loved. I then compared myself to the exceptionally talented individuals I encountered in boarding school and college, many of whom had engaged in formal musical training since age five or six. While I still took several music theory and composition courses, I allowed my envy to discourage me. We’ll talk more about perfectionism and envy later. Sexism has also reared its head. My life partner Jen loves her work, and it has sometimes paid much better than mine. Despite my “cerebral” understanding of sexism, part of me still wants to be the primary income earner, and to do whatever type of work it takes to ensure that. I also feel like I “should” make more because I’ve had more formal schooling, and because I once earned a much higher salary. In reality, it’s rare that two people in any relationship ever make the same amount. Just as I had compared myself to my school peers, I was making the same error with the person closest to me. This type of attitude helps neither person in a relationship. Not too long after revisiting my youth, I started to accept that music is a core part of my being. I enthusiastically created the space for a small music studio–a first
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step in moving toward one of my own delayed childhood dreams. This selfacknowledgment also reinforced that creativity and innovation are key for me. These historical self-assessments also helped me to identify other characteristics of activities that energize me: adventure, discovery, and learning, immersion in nature, and physical activity. I discovered some clear patterns: for example, one of my favorite activities as a child was riding my Big Wheel and bicycle around the neighborhood, and I later bicycled across the country. If you haven’t already attempted it, I encourage you to try a version of the “peak experiences” Future cyclist exercise outlined earlier. This may help you to discover some of the important parts of yourself that you have pushed aside, and childhood dreams that you may have buried. I hope that your own exploration clarifies what you love to do most, and helps you to identify your life purpose!
com. they may or may not always be our values. For example. When someone else does not act in a manner that supports our values. the things that sustain us. because I value a clean and safe environment.42 We’ll be using this list in an exercise later. and in the public domain. the causes with which we identify are probably closely linked to our values. that we would have great difficulty living without. Naked idealism requires exposing and honoring our authentic self amidst a world that often encourages us to cover it up. I experience this when I see someone littering. Below are examples of values from the “Personal Values Card Sort. and when we act out of line with this part of ourselves.” “be strong. Exposing Our Authentic Self: Values What values are According to Freedictionary. as we’ll discuss below. creating personal fulfillment and changing the world for the better. a value is “a principle. For those of us involved in idealist work or hobbies. As you skim over it. we feel out of integrity.NAKED IDEALISM 8.” The things we value are the things that we most highly prize. Values drive much of what we do.” It is derived from earlier words with meanings such as “be worth.” “be well. standard or quality considered worthwhile or desirable. Only once we understand ourselves can we identify and powerfully pursue what’s most important to us.” created by faculty at the University of New Mexico. However. do any stand out as being particularly important to you? . we may feel disappointed or offended.
) . C’deBaca.d. Matthews & Wilbourne (n.PART II: BEING NAKED Figure 3: Examples of Personal Values Acceptance Accuracy Achievement Adventure Attractiveness Authority Autonomy Beauty Caring Challenge Change Comfort Commitment Compassion Contribution Cooperation Courtesy Creativity Dependability Duty Ecology Excitement Faithfulness Fame Family Fitness Flexibility Forgiveness Friendship Fun Generosity Genuineness God’s will Growth Health Helpfulness Honesty Hope Humility Humor Independence Industry Inner peace Intimacy Justice Knowledge Leisure Loved Loving Mastery Mindfulness Moderation Monogamy Non-conformity Nurturance Openness Order Passion Pleasure Popularity Power Purpose Rationality Realism Responsibility Risk Romance Safety Self-acceptance Self-control Self-esteem Self-knowledge Service Sexuality Simplicity Solitude Spirituality Stability Tolerance Tradition Virtue Wealth World peace From Miller.
but they became important to us later in light of new knowledge or experiences. Perhaps we didn’t hold them at an early age. Most of us have three different levels of values:43 Core values: First. Some of these may come to rank among the values most important to us. With a few certain types of values. freedom. and even if we have a set that is similar to someone else’s. Ecology is a chosen value for me. we probably prioritize them somewhat differently. peace. justice.NAKED IDEALISM Each of us has a slightly different set of values. however. it’s easy to get these different levels confused with one another. Chosen values: We also hold a number of consciously chosen values that we’ve adopted over the course of our lives. If we don’t consistently honor them in our lives and work. and I’ll also share some of my own struggles with this. we each have a small set of values that have always been important to us. I’ll discuss some of these in Part IV. sustainability. . we will likely feel great discontentment. For example. and which are deeply ingrained in our nature. as I grew older I learned more about the complex ways in which we’re connected to our planet and other forms of life. They’re still values. I have valued creativity since a very young age. to name just a few–but it’s likely that some of these are genuinely more important to us. They’ve probably been there since a very early age. they’re just someone else’s. and aspects of work that require little creativity can become dull for me after a short time. Those of us involved in idealist professions often identify with a great number of lofty-sounding values–equality. while some may never become quite that important. “Should” values: Most of us also have a number of values that we strive to exhibit simply because we feel that society. we may benefit ourselves and the world by converting some of our “should” values to chosen values. while others just seem like socially acceptable things to support. If we’ve never examined our values in any depth. In the majority of cases. family or other external entities expect us to– even if we don’t truly prioritize them on a deeper level. we’re better off if we learn to devote less time and energy to these values. so that we can focus upon our core and chosen values.
but still very costly. Discerning between expressed values and needed values A values-related issue that often plagues idealists in particular is difficulty in discerning between the following two concepts: • • What we value from the world. Are they acting against their core values? It’s possible. and another who earned his M. “What do you most enjoy doing?” may yield. and seek to obtain from our environment and people around us. Each spring I interview Yale applicants in Pittsburgh who are unable to visit the campus in Connecticut.” A few minutes later.g.. Better late than never. “Chemistry and Physics. or who wish to have an additional perspective added to their application. and has considered “shifting gears” to get a law degree. friendship and other things they value highly.D. this person is likely to struggle with what they should value and what they do value. to make us fulfilled. such conflicts may take on a deep spiritual nature. Although it’s normal for high school seniors to possess significant uncertainty regarding what career they wish to pursue. but they are in a sexually active relationship that fulfills many of their needs for intimacy. The price of this can be very high–I’m reminded of recent conversations with one friend who earned a science Ph. Values we seek to express. they sometimes provide conflicting responses to questions.D. but may soon return to get a business degree. “What fields do you plan to pursue?” may yield the response. or project outward and into the world through our actions. As society delivers very strong messages regarding sexuality. loved). some are examples . “Dancing and playing the guitar. Perhaps someone believes that they shouldn’t have sex before getting married.” They may talk for five minutes without mentioning anything remotely related to math or science. Depending upon their beliefs. The two are very closely related–some items in the table of values earlier denote things that what we value obtaining from the world (e.PART II: BEING NAKED I’ve become acutely aware of the power of “shoulds” through one of my volunteer activities. The “sneaky shoulds” plague each of us in different ways. “Should” values can also impact our most intimate relationships.
and some can be either (e. and another pointing out and away from you for values you seek to express.. Going in the other direction.NAKED IDEALISM of values expressed toward the world (e. This can be a cause of burnout for many in idealist professions.44 Figure 4: We Must Often Discern Between Two Directions of Values For example. and I will probably also value the expression of honesty through my own behavior. nurturance). honesty. loving). but it may pertain only to my expression of it toward others. As Jim Vuocolo explains..g. Suppose. I may place a high priority on tolerance and acceptance.g. I may place a high value on receiving honest treatment from others. Perhaps I’m very thick-skinned and care little how much others generally tolerate and accept me. I may place a high value on being known by others (similar to obtaining fame or popularity). that I devote my career to environmental issues because I place a high value upon sustainability and respect for all living things–I seek to project this value outward . even if I enjoy public recognition. simply picture an arrow pointing in and toward you for what you value from the world. but the nature of a task may keep us from obtaining something else we value. Why is it important to discern between these two “directions” of values? Idealists often devote ourselves to causes where we can express our values. for example. but I may not place a high value on knowing others (the expressed form of this value). if I value honesty. On the other hand. I may be somewhat of a “loner” and have few intimate relationships in my personal life.
For example. If I also place a high value on having peace in my own life. Some authors use the term virtues to refer to expressed values. After we identify those values we hold most dearly. For the purpose of initially identifying our values so that we can develop a meaningful life purpose and visions. As you explore the values assessment tools in the upcoming sections. Living our values when they fall outside the societal norm can create internal values conflicts. or vice-versa. we can develop a sense of whether each value is something we seek to express and obtain. we may need to make significant adjustments to our social networks and closely examine how we prioritize our values. I might need to consider a job that addresses the same cause. We each place a different emphasis upon each “direction” of values. We may also experience difficulties if we work in a capacity where we have a desire to express and a need to obtain exactly the same thing. For example. While the job catered to values I desired to express (e. harmony. I now immerse myself in nature by cycling nearby trails or jogging in a nearby nature reserve a few times per week. environmental sustainability). before moving on.PART II: BEING NAKED into the world. you’ll see that they combine the two directions of values (those we seek to express and what we seek to obtain) in the same list. sustainability. we need to clarify a small but important bit of terminology. but with tasks that don’t involve frequent conflict with others. who often choose this lifestyle because we place a high value upon health. However.45 However. but only one of these two areas is addressed by the work. this type of interaction may drain a lot of my energy. and the environment. I once interviewed for an environmental position that excited me until I discovered I’d have to spend the vast majority of my time indoors at a desk. it’s fine to blend the two directions. If we have a strong need for harmony and respect from others. or whether it’s one-directional. expressing these values through our behavior can elicit unexpected defensive reactions from others–often those closest to us. life. Finally. I express environmental sustainability through many of my daily lifestyle choices and my writing.g.. while at . I engage in advocacy work putting me in frequent contact with people who strongly oppose my efforts. Don’t be concerned if you have more expressed values versus things you seek to obtain. a few authors have chronicled the relationship struggles of vegetarians and vegans. I didn’t pursue the opportunity much further. it would not have catered to what I value obtaining (being immersed in nature regularly).
I largely avoid use of the word virtue here. To avoid confusion. by conditions. priority core values versus our lowerpriority “should” values. If we’re aware of our own higherValues can help us remove our facades. In the span of a week. If we know how such opportunities connect to our own values. being in touch with our values helps us to live more intentionally and powerfully. and internalized values. another to attend an environmental event. by circumstances. Stephen Covey explains. Awareness of our values can also help us to resolve ambivalence about things we want. selected. For example. In articulating his values. we can more effectively set personal boundaries. Proactive people are driven by values–carefully thought about. but can’t figure out why he vacillates between excitement and fear. we can prioritize and say “yes” only to those most important to us.”46 Values may even help us to hone our life purpose. we might have a request to march in a peace rally. he realizes that the high value he places upon intimacy and stability is conflicting with the high value he places upon adventure and change. but aren’t pursuing wholeheartedly. Why values are so important As with purpose. Clarifying that some of my highest-priority values are health and the environment shaped the “healthy and sustainable world” component of my purpose. suppose that Johnny Johnson wants a family. and so on. “Reactive people are driven by feelings. Gaining one had seemed to mean giving . Prioritizing our values helps us make otherwise difficult decisions as we actively pursue our visions.NAKED IDEALISM least one uses this term to refer to strengths. by their environment. another to stay late at work. and to create visions in line with our authentic self. Values help us stay on track and identify what is most important to us. due to the appearance that we need to give up one thing we value to gain another. This is similar to the value conflicts (obtained versus expressed) described earlier.
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning. which I strive to apply in my own life. Acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual growth. but also actively and openly listening to the other person. enabling them to take collective action on larger causes. but may factor prominently into the language. discovering both commonalities and differences. the embedded values drive the activities and priorities of the organization: • • • • • • • The inherent worth and dignity of every person. allowing them to bond via their commonalities. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.48 A dialogue is an exchange in which both people are fully communicating in an interactive fashion. Alongside getting married.47 As with other communities I’ve participated in or observed. The goal of world community with peace. goals. often equates to two monologues where little learning or true exchange occurs. Justice. Values can help to connect communities of idealists. he may find other ways to fulfill his needs and pursue all of what he wants. A debate. equity. not only sharing their own ideas. or he might seek a more adventurous career. Neither person is really open to the ideas of the other. and perhaps deepening their relationship. keeping our values in mind enables us to dialogue rather than debate with others regarding our beliefs. but is merely interested in defending and conveying their own stance. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process. and justice for all. With this additional understanding. Finally. Such communication of values can unite large numbers of diverse individuals. Johnny and his partner might make plans to travel more. As one example. One or both individuals may learn and grow from the conversation. and compassion in human relations. liberty. and literature of the community. in contrast. below are the seven principles affirmed and promoted by Unitarian Universalists. Each may as well be .PART II: BEING NAKED up the other. but both are important to him. and share resources to change the world. These may not always be explicitly labeled as values. enhance one another’s lives.
and it motivated me to begin considering the merits of a bicycle helmet. .NAKED IDEALISM speaking to themselves. that are aligned with what I value–it’s exciting to progress toward a destination and to enjoy the journey. sending me careening over the handlebars to meet the hard pavement. a friend going through the “show off” phase of adolescence illustrated how abruptly a gentle cruise can come to a halt. despite my front wheel taking on an irreparable “V” shape. suddenly riding between us and pedaling slightly ahead. “Check this out!” George shouted. with just a few feet between us. It did make for an interesting walk home. Real-life lesson: A foot between the bike wheel spokes What happens if we remain largely unaware of the things we really value. however. slightly ahead of both our front wheels. none of us suffered serious injuries. Even the most intelligent people do this on occasion. It’s similar to other points in life when I’m engaged in activities that I really love. “Double kick!” Heated interrogations following the chaos failed to yield a logical explanation of George’s exact intent. our best understanding is that he meant to kick out to both sides simultaneously in somewhat of a “split” fashion. but George’s mind was in other places. We’ll discuss this more in Part IV. To date. and they are not likely to advance their relationship in a positive way. When I’m gliding along a trail or a relatively quiet road. he ended up placing his left foot directly into my front spokes. I enjoy the feeling of forward motion combined with the ability to observe a great deal around me. often eager to show off what he had learned in Taekwondo lessons. Tim and I were discussing something relatively profound. The resulting conflict will slow our forward momentum or promptly stop us altogether. George. Instead. Tim and I were pedaling side-by-side down a lightly traveled city street. I have loved cycling much of my life. When I was 16.49 This usually helps neither of them in achieving their visions. where it obviously does not belong. Surprisingly. followed closely behind. inserting “should” values in their place? The same thing that happens when someone sticks one of their feet between our bicycle wheel spokes.
You may find yourself questioning how you define some of the terms. . just let the results sit for a few days. and so on. for example. changes in your energy levels as you speak about different values. I offer several options for identifying your top 10 list of values. or family and intimacy. This might be the case. Note that you may be able to represent several closely related concepts with one word if they have very similar meanings for you.PART II: BEING NAKED That once-daredevil friend now conducts surgical procedures requiring extremely high levels of steadiness and precision with microscopic equipment. Write in any additional ones that come to mind but don’t appear in the list. He’s very good at his work. discussing your results with a friend who is an excellent listener can be useful. and then revisit the exercise to see if you obtain similar or identical results. try to keep your “shoulds” out of your spokes so they don’t stop you in your tracks. And keeping this story in mind as an analogy. Highlight those that are important to you. garnering high levels of respect from both patients and peers. If you find it very difficult the first time. Just don’t let him near a bicycle. and struggling with how to weigh very similar values against one another. A simple way to begin identifying your core values is to review the table of values listed earlier. Clarifying our top values Because this can be a breeze for some people and quite a challenge for others. Then go back through the list again and cross out highlighted values until you’re left with only the 10 that are most important to you. with change and adventure. Even if you don’t have a life coach. They may notice patterns in what you’re communicating. Exercise: Clarify Your Top Values Option 1: Go through the table of values with a highlighter.
Think back through your life and create a list of five to 10 times when you felt that you were truly “being yourself” by strongly expressing values important to you. repeat the sorting process using only the cards from the “very important to me” pile.edu. • Start by sorting the cards into three piles labeled “very important to me.unm.NAKED IDEALISM Option 2: Download and print out the Personal Values Card Sort. Should you wish to utilize the exercise from which I derived the values table.” Note that the card set contains three cards with these labels. Next. After sorting. Continue this process until you have a list of your 10 top values. scroll down to “values card sort” and “values card sort instructions. You can also utilize a technique similar to one suggested for discovery of life purpose. go to casaa. this will leave an even smaller number in the “very important to me” pile.” and “not important to me.” “important to me. and note values that come to mind. The exercise includes a cut-out card for each of the values listed above. Repeat this whittling down process until you have 10 or fewer cards in the “very important to me” pile. . When you’ve finished.” and download both. along with a brief definition for that value. Again set aside all the values cards except those you placed in the “very important to me” pile. • • • • Option 3: Revisit peak experiences based on values rather than purpose. set aside all the values cards except those you placed in the “very important to me” pile. Consider additional past times in your life if necessary. Look for any patterns.
co-workers. horrified to find her apartment building ablaze. and sustainable development. Despite her previous loss. if any. a coworker. but they also ask those around you to form a “complete circle” of input: your boss. Ask those who know you best what values seem to be important to you. She escaped uninjured. with a desire to promote the arts as a vital component of education. If you conduct your own informal 360-degree values feedback exercise. as well as values that are once again stuck in the background. Consider the times in your life when you’ve suffered a significant loss or have adapted to serious adversity.PART II: BEING NAKED Option 4: Revisit your thinking following times of loss.. and other individuals. Option 5: Ask your friends. e. One night Rebecca awakened abruptly.” After I gave a presentation on some of this book’s concepts to the Coro Fellows. culture. frustration gave way to new perspective: she gained clarity on what was most important to her. a neighbor. try to ask several individuals who represent different settings and types of relationships. she’s now very excited to be headed in a new direction. a college friend. Sometimes the most adverse situations can provide the strongest clues about our values. waiting to be rediscovered.g. She soon decided to leave her job in market research and apply to the Coro program. . and compare their responses to your own thoughts. did you have regarding what is most important to you? Among them may be values that you’ve had the courage to incorporate into your life. sometimes others have a more objective view of us than we do. In the days that followed. but lost most of her material belongings. As mentioned earlier. What realizations. including the importance of community and the impact that music and other arts had made in her life. This is similar to a technique that many human resources departments utilize for employee development. she shared her tale of how sudden tragedy altered her life trajectory. known as a 360-degree feedback survey–they not only ask for your own opinions of your strengths and potential areas for improvement. whose mission is to “prepare individuals for effective and ethical leadership in the public affairs arena. Rebecca is a participant in the Coro Center for Civic Leadership. and a relative.
the second step is to rank these top 10 in relation to one another. Exercise: Rank Your Top Values Option 1: Simply look at them. However. I do recommend eventually spending a little more time on this if you haven’t already. . If that occurs. or if you’ve already given significant thought to this topic in the past. write in each of your top 10 values once along the left-hand column.com under Books/Naked Idealism (use the password “authentic” to access the downloadable tools link). to ensure that you’re honoring them as consistently as possible. as some of them may have roughly equal levels of importance to you. For example. if “world peace” is in the C box in the left column. it should also appear in the C box in the top row. While in a different format. This may be a bit more challenging. The second two options below are designed to help deal with this. you may simply be able to look over your list of top values and rank them in order from most to least important. The basic idea is to get a reasonable picture of which ones are the most important of all. If you’re looking for a quick and dirty approach to begin with. Also write the values next to the same letters in the second grid at the bottom of the page. Option 2: Utilize the Values Ranking Grid on the following pages.NAKED IDEALISM Ranking the top 10 things we value After you’ve identified 10 or fewer values. and in the same order along the top row so that each value is alongside the same letter in both cases. • In the top grid. this idea is similar to a method that Richard Nelson Bolles outlines in What Color is Your Parachute? Utilize the Values Ranking Grid below or download a printable version at idealistcoach. don’t spend too much time fretting over something like which should be ranked fifth and which sixth in the case of a tie.
• • Option 3: Download an automated version of the Values Ranking Grid. this can get a bit tricky if you have a three-way tie. Thus. If you want to go a step further and break these ties. so the additional amount of accuracy you obtain in such cases may not be worth your effort. If your computer can open Microsoft Excel files and you are comfortable with basic spreadsheet data entry. Those with the most points have the highest rankings. growth and genuineness tied for 5th because they both won a total of four times. followed by purpose. .com under Books/Naked Idealism. Each value in your top 10 list will be compared to each and every other value once. for each blank white cell in the top grid.PART II: BEING NAKED • Then. However. This is equivalent to the number of times each letter now appears in the grid. we could bump growth’s ranking down to 6th to be a bit more accurate. I originally created it for other coaches to use with their clients. you can download an electronic version of the below grid that automatically tallies the total “wins” for each value. but you’re welcome to download it for your own use at idealistcoach. After you’ve ranked all the possible value pairs against one another. ecology has the highest ranking because it won a total of 8 times. go back and see which of the two items won when they were directly compared to each other. compare the corresponding value in the left column to the corresponding value in the top row. Use the password “authentic” to access the downloadable tools link. count up the total number of times each value “won” over the other values. Fun came in last because it won only twice. For example. You’ll likely have at least one tie. and write in the letter of the value that’s most important to you out of that pair. In the completed example below. and so on. Please note that I’m unable to provide support for use of this free tool. It does not include the optional “tie breaker” step. Enter each value’s total “wins” into the middle column of the bottom grid. but genuineness beat growth when the two were compared directly.
j. c. j. d. b. e. c. h. a. h. c. e. i. f. i. f. e. g. . i. Value a. g. d. f. g. b. d. h. a.NAKED IDEALISM Figure 5: Blank Values Ranking Grid and Scoring Form (sample completed version with made-up scores on next page) Values Ranking Grid b. Total “wins” above Rank j.
world peace a b j j e f g h j c. ecology i.PART II: BEING NAKED Figure 6: Sample Completed Values Ranking Grid and Scoring Form (make-believe scores & sample values) Values Ranking Grid g. inner peace d. growth f. fun j. world peace a a c a d c a e c e a b f f f g b g d g f a b i d e f i h Total “wins” above 7 5 3 3 4 6 4 8 2 3 Rank 2nd 4th 7th (tie) 7th (tie) 5th (tie) 3rd 5th (tie) 1st 10th 7th (tie) i. ecology h b h h h h h a. inner peace d. ecology i. genuineness h. world peace Value a. health c. growth b. creativity e. purpose b. inner peace d. creativity h. genuineness h. purpose b. creativity e. purpose e. family g. growth f. genuineness j. fun . health f. family g. fun j. family a. health c.
choosing a career that changes the world and choosing to live in poverty are actually two separate choices. and they offered quite different perspectives surrounding the same concern. often feeling that poverty is being thrust upon us. I’ve experienced this a number of times. she explained. It is important for us to recognize and resolve any issues we may have surrounding money-related thinking.” Money: A value of particular interest for idealists Money causes a great deal of internal conflict for many people. for fear that they wouldn’t be ethically admirable. so that we may act with more integrity and impact. Both of these individuals currently belong to a community that prides itself on doing a great deal of good in the world. where we could be making an even greater difference. commenting on the examples of purpose I provided. observed that they seemed to be somewhat “devoid of self” and overly focused on impact upon the external world. We may feel a sense of financial martyrdom. We may choose to remain in a low-paying profession if it provides us with many things we value. The truth is that we may be pulling energy from areas to which we truly are committed on a deeper level. and the fact that professions challenging the status quo are often underappreciated by society (and thus lower paying). As Hillary Rettig emphasizes in The Lifelong Activist. “What the world needs is people who have come alive. Recall Thurman’s suggestion. We vacillate back and forth. forth and back. Another. She noted her upbringing in a religious community where the focus on others was so strong that it often created a “hollow sense of self” with relatively little left to give. but this is likely amplified for many idealists due to our desire to live authentically. seemed to contradict my earlier statements about fulfilling one’s self before reaching out to the world. This. but at the same time feel that higher-paid professions we’ve explored aren’t quite as good a fit for us. or .” We may have difficulty admitting that we are not deeply committed to some of the causes or values that society wants us to pursue. meaningful work and low pay aren’t necessarily connected. As noted earlier. we each have several levels of values which likely include a number of superficial “shoulds.NAKED IDEALISM An idealist’s dilemma: What if my values aren’t altruistic? An insightful participant in a recent Naked Idealism workshop shared that he felt anxious about defining his values and visions.
and then find ourselves unfulfilled. by living upon goods that are discarded by businesses and consumers. So how can we start to resolve some of these issues? To begin.50 As Charland explains. Additionally. many individuals have even attempted complete economic independence from the existing system. they also communicated the ways in which money was highly valued. Conflicts in the money arena may stem from several sources. we’re often raised with mixed messages regarding money: we’re told on one hand that money is evil. average. They wisely communicated to me that there were many other types of wealth in life. we can consider some of the beliefs we grew up with surrounding money. whose income was well below the U. we may quickly shift gears and pursue gratification through rapid financial gain–even if it means doing something unfulfilling. If we spend time in a profession that pays very little money. However. then we must act accordingly. We simply bounce back and forth. often conveyed the “money is at the root of all evil” opinion. My family. Furthermore. We are no longer a victim of external forces. which then leads us to the assumption that a primary purpose of work is to “get ahead” as individuals. If the latter is the case. and helpless when we don’t. e. and on the other hand that money is required to have influence in the world. and then we’re told on the other hand that we should pursue an advanced education so we don’t have to work so hard for it. we may feel guilty when we do have money. For one. In fact. This can lead us into the backwards “having-doing-being” pattern. such as love and belonging. Soon. This became very apparent when I was awarded a full scholarship to Andover and was later accepted to Yale. never quite happy. we often don’t even realize that we have adopted these assumptions. We’re told on one hand that working hard for our money is a noble thing. they joked about how “someday Dave will be able to afford .g. Consequently.S..PART II: BEING NAKED we might determine that we still need more money to create what’s important to us. but instead choose to act in service of visions larger than we are. we may have adopted the widespread societal assumption that work is tied to personal achievement. It’s likely that some of them conflicted. we may feel that relying upon (and thereby supporting) the established economic system contradicts our attempts to change the world. and that our relatives and friends weren’t even conscious of the messages they were communicating.
The boards may have exceptional difficulty finding talented new directors for these organizations. This may exacerbate the major leadership shortage expected among the nonprofit sector within the next two decades. or is it that deep down inside we fear that we’re “not really worth it” or that we can’t live up to the additional expectations that may accompany higher pay? If we don’t feel we’re really worth it.NAKED IDEALISM to buy us all vacations. but there are also many who utilize wealth to do great things. there will always be individuals who horde money and abuse it. . To worsen matters. I heard tales of leaders who created negative circumstances for entire organizations by failing to advocate for themselves financially. then the amount of additional work required to “prove ourselves” at higher pay will seem scary indeed! How can we ever set work and life boundaries at such a high level of expectation? Furthermore. how will we persuade others that their time is worth devoting to our cause if our own time is worth so little? How much money we make is only one side of the equation. don’t contribute to a “resource hole” due to your own attitudes about money. I encountered several individuals who frequently complained about their lot in life. they have rarely raised their salary over the years. another piece is whether our spending aligns with what we value. In boarding school and college. I was astounded when I discovered the amount of financial wealth that exists–and I quickly learned that money is not the root of all evil.” (They may still be waiting a while for that!) While much of this was in fun. Sure. While working in non-profit and academic sector organizations. Nearing retirement.51 If you have a cause you care strongly about. We need to be very honest with ourselves about why we do or don’t like money. we can consider ways in which others’ generosity with money has benefited us or the broader world–and whether these benefits would have occurred without money. Examining our values. Stop for a moment and consider the following: What contradictory messages about money did you receive while growing up? How do they influence you today? Next. Currently facing many nonprofits is the issue of long-term executive directors who have continually “martyred” themselves. and wish to be a leader. because they must first raise funds for significant salary increases. it delivered a message–and one that was quite contradictory to those I had received previously. Is it really that we’re trying to be generous and do a good thing. We can also look at how our own “selfless” attitudes toward money may inadvertently harm others.
if we value having power and influence in the world. we determine that it’s really costing us 20 days. then we may wish to get rid of a cluttered house that’s larger than we need. and one of our strengths is that we’re very entrepreneurial. Robin and Dominguez recommend asking questions such as the following: • • • Did I receive fulfillment. we may initially believe that our big-screen television is costing us 10 days of our life energy. We might decide that 20 extra days of time with our family is much more valuable to us than a big-screen TV–or maybe not! For each expenditure or possession. We may need more money to do what’s . the role it plays in our life. As Elkin warns. and value in proportion to the life energy spent? Is this expenditure of life energy in alignment with my values and life purpose? How might this expenditure change if I didn’t have to work for a living? Such inquiry can stimulate thinking about our relationship to money. and adjust our spending and earning goals accordingly. but after adjusting for the above. satisfaction.PART II: BEING NAKED strengths. For example. Once we adjust job earnings for commuting time. and determining how much life energy we’re trading for various possessions. Then we can more honestly assess the extent to which our time and energy expenditures align or misalign with our values. given that each person’s wants are different. then we may consider ways in which we can make more money and then utilize that money to help others. it’s important that one not feel deprived–we want to discern between simplifying and being overly simplistic in our approach to reducing the clutter in our lives.”52 It involves conducting a thorough assessment of our monetary activities and habits. If we decide that we value having freedom to move and travel. Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez describe a nine-step model for “personal financial transformation. and so on. and how we might begin to lead a life that’s less driven by money itself and more by our purpose and values. For example. stressrelated illness. and visions more closely may help us to determine the role we may wish money to play–or not play–in our lives. we gain a different sense of how much time and energy we’re sacrificing. There’s no magic formula. work clothing.
or things you’d like to have more of. Exercise: What Are Your Dreams Worth? Consider the annual amount of money that the average U.S. household spent on the following items in 2005:53 Transportation/vehicle expenses: Clothing and related services: House furnishings and equipment: Food away from home: Alcoholic beverages: Total: $8.. What is it worth to you. four hours to engage in your favorite hobby each week). a few smaller-butsignificant things (e. in monetary terms. or on items that have little or no relationship to your dreams? • • . In contrast. and a few in between (e. cosmetics..634 $2. an environmentally sustainable home in a culturally diverse neighborhood).NAKED IDEALISM really important to us in the world. what value do you place on having a sense of life direction and fulfillment? To estimate a portion of this. or we may find that we already have enough to live the life we really want. two new staff in your organization)..g.344 $1. or a new hairdo? Jot down a few rough estimates.g. try the following: • • Write down descriptions of five or six things you’d very much like to create in your life. a new outfit.130 $16.g.761 How much do you believe you currently spend just on these categories in a year? How much do you dole out for a single car tune-up.886 $1. Your list can include a few really big things (e. to have each of these things? Do you currently place more value on your dreams. a meal out.767 $2.
I re-identified some of my strengths while pursuing counselor training and life coach training. Freedictionary. Later. a third part of our authentic self we must expose is our strengths. I wasn’t really ready to acknowledge my gifts yet. it would take some time to begin working my way toward a career that really fit. and while consulting with a leadership development firm.54 However. during a “Finding Your Gifts” workshop taught by a local nonprofit group. Exposing Our Authentic Self: Strengths Before and after realizing one’s strengths What strengths are On our way to becoming naked idealists. I first began to consider my own strengths more seriously several years ago.com broadly defines a strength as “an attribute or quality of particular worth or utility. as they suggested that some major life changes might be in order. an asset. Consequently.PART II: BEING NAKED 9.” We will go much . a source of power or force.
” Their definition includes three components: • • • Talents. feeling or behavior. The important distinction to make is between the more innate or “natural feeling” abilities and those that still feel difficult despite our hard work. however. Knowledge. To do this exceptionally well. Talents are innate.NAKED IDEALISM further in life if we are familiar with our strengths alongside our purpose and our values. Buckingham and Clifton offer a more exact description based upon survey research. skills.” To actually create a strength. as they all have to do with our abilities. Discover Your Strengths. In this case. They define strengths as “consistent near perfect performance in an activity. or facts and lessons learned. In order for them to be an asset. While we can become good at many things through effort. or naturally occurring patterns of thought. Skills. • We often use the terms strengths. we have to put them to use in the world–we have to share them with others. and gifts interchangeably. When counseling previously incarcerated men. “It’s hard to play and have fun when all your presents are still wrapped up. along with management skills. Nobody can enjoy them. The former are more likely to be key assets we can leverage in . while knowledge and skills can be learned and developed through experience. or steps of an activity. They provide the following example: • • “The ability to build a network of supporters who know you and are prepared to help you” is a strength. one must perfect the wooing talent by adding knowledge and skills through education and practice. I suggested that some of them seemed to be hoarding their strengths like unopened gifts. which is “to be drawn toward strangers and to enjoy the challenge of making a connection with them. In Now.” The same holds true for all of us. one must initially possess a naturally occurring talent they label as wooing. this might include knowledge of cultural and communication subtleties. Buckingham and Clifton believe that exceptional strengths usually result from focusing efforts where we already have talent. talents.
” Humanity: “Interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others.56 However. A strength identification tool we’ll discuss later is the “Values in Action” survey. One other system that illustrates the concept of strengths is worth mentioning. We’re more likely to get positive results or “rewards” when we . Focusing upon strengths motivates us to action much more than focusing upon weaknesses.” Temperance: “Strengths that protect against excess.” Transcendence: “Strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning. It identifies 24 strengths organized across the following six categories:55 • • • • • • Wisdom and knowledge: “Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge. Also. As you begin to consider what your own strengths may be. keeping the innate versus learnable components separate in our minds will be useful as we look to build our strengths down the road. many of us spend more time trying to correct our weaknesses or flaws than we do capitalizing upon our strengths. where do they seem to lie? Which do you believe you may be underutilizing? Are you allowing talents to lie dormant? Why strengths are so important Ironically.” While different than Buckingham and Clifton’s system. and its accompanying book is entitled Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. these categories can simplify our thinking and help us to see patterns in our assets. or they may span several. recognizing our strengths is vital for a number of reasons. external or internal.” Courage: “Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition. Our top strengths may cluster within one or two categories.” Justice: “Civic strengths that underlie healthy community life.PART II: BEING NAKED achieving our visions.
e. Strengths help us to determine the best ways to achieve our desired results– i. Behavioral psychologists have long known that providing praise and reinforcement to a child when they’re engaging in a desired behavior is much more effective than punishing them when they’re engaging in an undesired behavior.. we might create articles as part of our . placing us in a state of “flow. we should consider the following: • • • • Strengths: What are our internal assets that we can draw upon as we move forward? Weaknesses: What are the internal areas in which we could stand to improve significantly? Opportunities: What are the factors external to us that we might leverage to realize our visions? Threats: What are the factors external to us that may pose barriers to realizing our visions? For example.57 Similar techniques apply to adults. and the rapidly expanding field of positive psychology is built upon the foundation of strengths. Many organizational consultants draw upon a body of techniques known as Appreciative Inquiry. The degree to which we recognize and put into play our strengths determines our level and stability of contentment.NAKED IDEALISM behave in a way that utilizes our strengths.59 Prior to determining the action steps for achieving our goals. and building upon existing strengths. We can borrow a technique from organizational strategic planning known as a SWOT analysis. This involves looking at what is going right with an organization. the most feasible strategies or action steps. this is more likely to lead to a meaningful and fulfilled life rather than merely an enjoyable life. if we wish to generate fifty new clients for our consulting business and we’re highly talented at writing.”58 As noted earlier. counseling and social work seem to be headed in this direction. According to positive psychology researchers. Various “human transformation” fields including coaching. we are happiest and most fulfilled when we shape our lives and work so that we are utilizing our strengths. even in times of struggle.
we may also decide to hire a web designer. Or. Combined with the connection of a common vision that’s larger than we are.” . this can help us to achieve greater success. these successful people ensured that they had all the resources necessary to achieve their visions. Because identifying our strengths will also hint at our weaknesses.PART II: BEING NAKED marketing strategy. knowing our strengths can help us to attract other resources for achieving our visions. Recognition that my strengths include creativity and an ability to generate new ideas led to the first segment of “To innovatively catalyze and create for a healthy and sustainable world. and it may range from only two people to several people. The more complex the task we seek to accomplish. we might even consider partnering with one of them and sharing resources to bolster both our online presences. we naturally “bring more to the table” and provide others with even more motivation to work with us–they know that their cause will also benefit.60 and this may be accomplished through working with a “mastermind group” of individuals with complementary sets of abilities and expertise. We decide that this can leverage the opportunity that an acquaintance is launching a new magazine based upon our specialty area. Continuing the previous example. Decades ago. the broader a set of skills and expertise we’ll need. we can better determine when to recruit the assistance or expertise of others. Like values. Napoleon Hill chronicled highly successful individuals’ use of such groups in Think and Grow Rich. strengths may also help us to define our life purpose. When we’ve determined we can’t go it alone. Achieving the greatest levels of success often requires a large degree of interdependence. When utilizing our strengths. Nobody is good at everything. This may be done formally or informally. if we have strengths that complement those of competitors.61 By surrounding themselves with people who were much more skilled and accomplished in specific areas. if website design is a weakness for us and we discover the potential threat that three competitors are ramping up their online marketing efforts.
Because the bird had a broken wing.C. they generally seemed to get along well. Jen and I lived in an apartment building with a diverse array of neighbors. a city trash collector who kept an alligator in the aquarium of his small apartment. and lived with a small bird that hobbled about his living room floor. Despite the vastly different dress styles. It nearly brought tears to our eyes. We heard of only one rumored “dangerous pet escape” during our time there. Ted. a six-foot-tall masseuse who would often lounge on the front stoop wearing nothing but boxers. Earning part of his rent by serving as the building’s unofficial maintenance person. one might think he owned a miniature dog. every day and a Reiki practitioner who enjoyed dressing up in kimonos adorned with flowers. In the rear of the third floor lived Jermaine. Below Jermaine lived our resident habitual door slammer. this had no connection to the plight of Reese’s dog-bird. Reese simply placed a one-foot-high divider in the doorway to confine it to the living room. and placed small dishes of food and water on the floor. along with a video collection rivaling that of a nearby rental store.NAKED IDEALISM Real-life lesson: An alligator. & kimono Complementary strength sets can be very helpful in simple community settings such as a neighborhood or apartment–even if they take the form of personality traits or interests that don’t fit the technical definition of strengths outlined earlier. The night we moved in. he sat in our dining room serenading us as he strummed his guitar. a forgetful 60-something grey-haired retiree with fading naval tattoos. flooding the stairwell and requiring police intervention to open the door. lived in the rear of the first floor. seldom-seen marijuana growing entrepreneur. As to our knowledge. Above us dwelled Reese. and above him in the attic apartment was our quiet. dog-bird. On the first floor just below us resided couple Rob and Don. Upon entering his apartment without seeing the cage or the bird itself. browsing the newspaper. even though he had apparently stopped tuning his guitar and piano some years ago. We learned of his business when he left his bathtub water running one day. In Baltimore. suit-clad accountant who commuted to D. He played the koto on occasion. a meticulously groomed. Ted also enjoyed playing music. . Oops.
Ted’s music frequently added a welcoming atmosphere to the first floor as we entered the building. but we still had to visit them on occasion to request a change of temperature. Because of this interdependent arrangement. he held the only key. due to his age and frailty. He could appear slightly threatening in his kimono when he really put his mind to it. Don was around much of the day as well. everyone utilized their strengths and interests to help others in an almost “unspoken code. he maintained a keen awareness of the functioning of the building. we had to consult with Ted whenever we needed access to the basement storage. despite the area having its share of issues facing many urban neighborhoods “in transition. To begin with. Even though his piano and guitar were quite out of tune. As the unofficial maintenance manager. This normally worked out. However. Reese negotiated with them to keep it relatively high so his half-bare massage clients wouldn’t become cold on the third floor. He informed us of potential neighborhood security concerns and relevant news. Additionally. and kept track of unfamiliar cars and people in the area. possibly because we rarely had to contact the landlord for anything. Additionally. Jen and I ended up living there for four years with few problems. Even though many of these examples may seem minor. his maintenance work was generally limited to sweeping the stairs and changing the hallway light bulbs on occasion. the rent for our cozy little apartment never rose above the original $340. Therefore. The average usually kept us comfortable on the second floor. Rob and Don controlled the thermostat for the entire front of the building. . Reese seemed to know many of the neighbors from sunning himself on the front stoop. they made our living situation much more pleasant. I renovated and maintained the small area in front of the building for several years.” During that time. and helped to keep the building secure.PART II: BEING NAKED We rapidly learned to get along with the neighbors. with most utilities included. because they liked the heat low due to living right above the furnace. often reporting issues to the landlord before anyone else–including Ted–spotted them. as the “price” of our exceptionally low rent in a very convenient neighborhood was a largely absent landlord–and an aging building with its share of quirks.” This often happened automatically. because I was good at gardening and enjoyed it.
I exhibited a talent for music composition at a young age. While the definitions of strength vary slightly depending upon which method you utilize. Exercise: Identify Your Strengths Option 1: Identify peak strength experiences. several structured assessments for this purpose already exist. This first informal approach is very similar to those recommended for purpose and values. Relying too extensively upon any one opinion or tool can be risky. but with a slightly different focus: • Look back at some of the high points or “peak experiences” of your life. what strengths or abilities do you feel you were exhibiting? • In doing this. Write a paragraph or two describing what you were doing. I hadn’t developed my talents into the same level of strengths as many of my peers had. it is important to consider whether you had a peer group with exceptionally high or low levels of strength in the same areas.NAKED IDEALISM Identifying our strengths As with purpose and values. you’ll gain at least a general idea of yours regardless. but was later surrounded by peers who had taken formal music performance lessons for years. and 2) doing something that seemed to “come naturally” in some way (either by your own judgment or through feedback from others). as noted earlier. In your own words. Because strengths are central to many self-development approaches. Returning to Buckingham and Clifton’s definition. this time defined by when you were 1) enjoying what you were doing. Have you underestimated yourself? . This might cause you to overestimate or underestimate your own potential. I recommend trying one of the more informal “self-identification” exercises alongside a more formal assessment for comparison and contrast. I then underestimated my talents and became less motivated for some time. For example. a few informal techniques are available for identifying strengths.
and instead of focusing on the doing. . Option 3: Take a formal strengths assessment. despite having incredible difficulty climbing even one flight of stairs. Another way to identify your strengths is to review your past. exhibited exceptional persistence that he could apply to more desirable ends. had traveled up and down a snowcovered hill at least a dozen times to pursue his drug of choice. If you don’t. This. you and I might both recount successful performances from a school talent show. and identifying why they were important to us can provide additional clues about our values. focus on the endpoints or results: • • • When were you the most successful? At those points. how did you achieve that success? What strengths had you used? Note that “past successes” don’t necessarily pertain to seeking something that is socially desirable–it can include any case where you attained a goal. then stick with the above options. two options described below are free or reasonably low-cost. he agreed. You may still benefit from reading one of the books referenced below. and relatively easy to obtain if you have internet access.PART II: BEING NAKED Option 2: Identify past successes and the strengths used to accomplish them. As for more structured and scientific approaches. and for you. it may have been the sense of teamwork you experienced from your band members. even if in your current wisdom you recognize that your goal may have been incongruent with your values. even if you’re unable to take the online assessments. the attention of an applauding crowd may have been what made it a success. Revisiting past successes also gives us confidence to move on to greater challenges. Recall the earlier example of the man who. For me. but remember very different aspects. For example.
they request demographic information and permission to utilize your results in a research database. the site of Martin Seligman.. below are partial descriptions of some of the top five strengths it identified for me: • Ideation: “You are fascinated by ideas.. but I found them sufficient to provide a basic idea. Another strengths assessment option is available at authentichappiness. The descriptions of each strength are only a few sentences long. too... providing additional clarification. In return..” • • These descriptions complemented some of the discoveries I made through coaching and career counseling..You revel in taking the world we all know and turning it around so we can view it from a strange but strangely enlightening angle.” Strategic: “The Strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route..They can energize others. Their instrument is based upon a different set of research and theory than the StrengthsFinder.com.” Futuristic: “‘Wouldn’t it be great if.. but wanted another opinion on.yours is the kind of mind that is always looking for connections.’ You are the kind of person who loves to peer over the horizon.63 Its results provide a few paragraphs describing each of your top five strengths. and has been upgraded to a second version... but it also provides an output with your five top strengths.You are a dreamer who sees visions of what could be and who cherishes those visions. They also confirmed some other hunches I already had.. a foremost researcher in the field of positive psychology..NAKED IDEALISM One option for a more formal and structured assessment is the online StrengthsFinder survey available when you purchase a new copy of Now.. You can purchase the book Authentic . This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity. including both short and long versions of the VIA (Values in Action) Signature Strengths Survey. and the book provides additional ideas for utilizing and developing them. To give an example of the types of results the assessment provides. The Future fascinates you. you can take a number of assessments free of charge.62 It is designed to identify the “talent” component of strengths per Buckingham and Clifton’s definition above. There. Discover Your Strengths....
” Fairness. create a life coaching practice.” Creativity. equity.e.PART II: BEING NAKED Happiness for additional detail. and talents. Bolles highlights the importance of identifying transferable skills. and originality: “Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. ingenuity.. You are always asking questions.” You can also find “job-seeker action verbs” on career sites such as Quintessential Careers (quintcareers.com). does have a much more values-based tone than the results from Buckingham and Clifton’s tool. he lists 246 “skills as verbs. to provide the basic idea.. Below are examples of some of my top strengths from that instrument: • • Love of learning: “You love learning new things.. and consider additional options for future endeavors. Utilizing the term skills somewhat interchangeably with gifts.. . and justice. whether in a class or on your own.” • • These seemed to mesh with the results of the StrengthsFinder survey.” Curiosity and interest in the world: “You are curious about everything. I hope that discovery of your strengths leads you to new and exciting creations as well! Consider the transferability of strengths Each one of our strengths presents options for living our purpose and achieving our visions. and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. some from those lists. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.. i. while providing additional perspective. and justice: “Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles. Confirming my strengths provided me with additional motivation to create this book. those we can utilize in a variety of settings. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people.. Below are a dozen.” for example..64 These can be key in finding a career or job that fits us. strengths. equity. “Fairness.
As you consider your ideal setting for living your purpose and achieving your visions. You might even entertain the possibility of starting with a blank slate and defining your own career.g. If you’re a “multicategorian” as I am. Just keep in . for example. inventory. Smaller organizations are more likely to have broader job descriptions. there are likely managers who engage in very little hands-on labor because they’re coordinating people. and office staff who look at the data (finances. Additionally. Interviewing senior citizens in a nursing home. a large environmental organization that plants trees in urban areas may have a lot of people who work with things. i.) that keep the organization running. enjoying aspects of all three.e. Furthermore. etc.g. keep in mind which of these task types you’re good at–and which you also enjoy. operating and handling) While some jobs and activities cross multiple categories.NAKED IDEALISM Figure 7: Examples of “Skill Verbs” Advising Caring Collaborating Entertaining Exploring Interviewing Mastering Publicizing Reporting Resolving Strategizing Visualizing Alongside identifying our skills or strengths. is very different than interviewing children in an elementary school... For example. those who do the outdoors labor of actually planting the trees. he notes that we can group skills into three broad categories according to what we like to work with: • • • Data (e. many clearly fit primarily within one. where as larger organizations are more likely to have specialized job functions. synthesizing and comparing) People (e..g. Bolles suggests that we also think about where we most enjoy utilizing them. then you may need a career that provides you with variety.. payroll. mentoring and supervising) Things (e.
or new and more effective ways to get involved in a current job or volunteer activity.PART II: BEING NAKED mind that if you don’t take the time to proactively determine your strengths. benefit the world.. Keep this in mind later as you create strategies for pursuing your visions. we’re more likely to exercise these “muscles” to develop them–e. . look for everyday opportunities to utilize your strengths. and provide you with additional energy to pursue your visions. This will further develop your strengths. increase your happiness. adding knowledge and experience to our talents.g. An additional step: Developing strengths Another benefit of identifying our strengths is that once we’re familiar with them. This includes identifying new ways to perform routine tasks. Additionally. others will make many of your decisions for you.
We may wish to have a modest eco-friendly house rather than a mansion. but maybe we don’t want to do this by becoming President. As idealists. who will? Note that there is a difference between the following: • Pursuing perfection in our own skills as an ideal en route to our desired results. Another part of authenticity is not getting caught up in a need to appear perfect. Accepting Self & Avoiding Perfectionism As we seek others to join us in our visions for a better life and world. The primary focus is not . we often hold ourselves to very high standards. As suggested earlier. and to judge ourselves based upon what we do or don’t have in comparison. by becoming truly alive. Perhaps we’d rather perform music.NAKED IDEALISM 10. one of the most powerful things we can do from the outset is to accept our authentic self and lead the life that most naturally stems from it. or inspire transformation in other people’s lives. values.65 Per the earlier discussion on “should” values. it’s easy to get caught up in what others choose to pursue. we should choose to create them– and embrace that they are important to us. especially those which may run against the societal norm. Having the need to appear perfect in the eyes of others. with the goal of continuous self-improvement in the service of creating something larger than ourselves. create photographs. and strengths. We may have a desire to change the world. Part of this comes from having the courage to pursue our visions. we give others permission to do the same. If those things are important to us and tie into our unique purpose. • The first is not necessarily a bad thing unless taken to the extreme. and we see ourselves as the only hope–if we don’t find the way to save the world. and it may be driven by a genuine desire to bring our visions into being.
and an assortment of doctors and lawyers. but upon our constantly evolving skills. the irrationality of my thinking was exposed when I enthusiastically explained to people what I did. However. As noted. The second. however. I allowed myself to feel insecure about my less-recognized profession with no established position on the “social status scale. Fortunately. Having a strong need to appear perfect can create a number of negative impacts. we may lose out on opportunities to make important connections with people. I attended a wedding with a number of individuals whose professions rank highly on the “social prestige” scale–many of them were my age or only slightly older.” I thought I had overcome my “small fish in a big pond” insecurities after attending college. may be driven by unaddressed fears and unmet needs. and to share our gifts.PART II: BEING NAKED on our own identity. a science professor who had just received tenure. Because I’ve always enjoyed psychology and have been very good at it. As an example. The same held true for psychology. Even worse. They included high-ranking staff from the offices of prominent legislators. With music. rather than ask . and the conversations were fascinating. It seemed as though at least one Ivy League degree was a prerequisite for attendance. I’ve found many ways to incorporate it into my life. It will also make success seem scary. if we’re too concerned about how we appear to others. They reacted very energetically in several cases. as we’ll fear not being able to do it on our own. which will slow our progress in achieving our desired results. I would have kept my new business largely a secret. we may miss opportunities to learn from people who have higher levels of knowledge and experience in our favorite activities. Who ever said we had to do it on our own? Related to this. we may instead avoid those who could help us most. however. Because we fear looking inferior. Had I allowed my insecurity to govern my behavior. For one. we may refrain from doing things we enjoy simply because we feel we’re not as good as others. Everyone I met was exceptionally friendly. but discovered that old mindsets easily come back to haunt us. the talent represented among students in my music courses at Andover and Yale was noteworthy. Another disadvantage of striving to look perfect in the eyes of others is that we’ll be less likely to ask others for help when we need it. We may fear being perceived as weak or incompetent. noting that they knew a few people who could benefit from my services.
we may never achieve the success we desire. but the label was nonetheless reflective of a larger reality. I’m usually quick to throw out the disclaimer that I’m far from perfect myself. If you choose to get rid of your car altogether.” I knew they were trying to be humorous. The latter will come across in your demeanor. make sure it’s because you truly desire to improve the world. If we are too concerned with appearing perfect. For example. . Naked idealism will forever elude us. we’ll also be more afraid to take risks in achieving our visions.” This is yet another reason I largely pushed aside one of my favorite activities for several years. such as a concern for the environment. This relates to the concept of “PC shoulds. but don’t even take a first step toward change because they could never see themselves being a “totally perfect vegan. Recall the concept of masterminding discussed earlier. and it may simply aggravate other people. “I’ll never be as good as they are–I just don’t have that level of talent. become vegan. and not simply because you wish to show off or appear perfect to others. I’ve encountered individuals who express an interest in vegetarianism or veganism. This is a particularly serious consequence when we’re involved in causes that place us in a very small minority to begin with. Next.” I recently participated in a survey that referred to vegans as “110% vegetarian. “How might I strive to be more like these talented individuals. Hill describes Henry Ford among those with the wisdom to surround themselves with experts holding superior specialized knowledge–this enabled Ford to do great things. If we can’t admit this to ourselves.” which we’ll discuss in Part IV. The same dynamic applies to other causes.NAKED IDEALISM myself. and will consequently experience only limited growth. in trying too hard to look perfect we may drive away other initiallyinterested people by making our own standards seem impossible to live up to. place three composters in your yard. Thus. I had to overcome some perfectionism-related fear and procrastination to write and complete this book. and put a windmill on your roof. but it required self-admission that he was far from perfect and couldn’t handle everything on his own. Many have formed the impression that those who adopt vegetarian diets and vegan lifestyles must strive to be perfect. Procrastination often accompanies this fear. then we are likely to slow our own progress. and learn from them?” I instead secretly thought.
and try not to let your ego get too caught up in the creative process or the desired outcome. improving your confidence. . Furthermore. and our ability to achieve our visions. Described in Part IV. you’ll discover the benefits of recruiting the assistance of others.PART II: BEING NAKED Finally. So what are our options for self-empowerment if we allow perfectionist tendencies to stand in our way? One way to begin whittling away at them is to volunteer for activities you know you can’t do alone. you’ll more easily see the importance of your everyday accomplishments. by “telescoping” your visions as outlined in Part III. If you’re steadily progressing toward your larger visions. Over time. this can negatively impact our relationships with others. Engage yourself in tasks where you must ask for help. even if you’re not perfect. perfectionism may lead to the idealist “holier than thou” attitude. you’re already making significant change in your life and in the world. Also heed the Part III advice on keeping yourself focused upon what you’re creating for its own sake. our quality of life. and will be able to focus your energies on tasks where you’re utilizing your own unique skills and interests.
so you have an easy reminder to return to. Exposing My Authentic Self–Elements of My Positive Core My purpose statement: To [verb(s)]… My five top strengths: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) My five top values–beginning with the most important: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) .NAKED IDEALISM 11. Reviewing Our Authentic Self Before moving on. you may wish to review and summarize what you’ve learned about yourself in Part II.
. It stems from natural creative energy. we can determine where we want to go and plan purposeful action to get there.83 PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED A s noted earlier.. doing is “movement and activity. .”66 Now that we’ve identified some of the elements of authentic self through reflection and self-analysis.
After practicing some of the concepts. and you may find that different types and sizes of projects demand different approaches. an alternative mindset can help in many ways. He hides Red Rider advertisements in his mother’s favorite magazine. Ignoring the frequent adult response. While many details and recommendations appear here. Part III blends previous thinking on the concept of vision. The later sections discuss how to place our personal visions within the larger context of the community and world.NAKED IDEALISM A comedic 1983 film. kid!” he continues to dwell upon his fantasy. In Ralphie’s mind. we can all learn to harness Ralphie’s creative energies. “You’ll shoot your eye out. Do what works best for you. each of us prefers to work in a slightly different way. I weave these ideas into the larger being-doing-having framework. integration and action may replace feeling overwhelmed. It is time for the next do-licious course of mental nourishment! . so that planning. Regardless. weaves references to the toy into dinner table conversations. I find the methods outlined here to help with many but not all projects and life areas. you may pick and choose the extent to which you use the techniques. an increasing range of situations and people become potential allies in his quest to achieve his vision–which he plans to do without losing one of his eyes. and even attempts to leverage a school essay assignment as a persuasive tool. Incorporating personal experience. Whether we seek to attain something as small as a BB gun or as large as a peaceful and just society. You may find yourself listing the finer details in your head rather than on paper. illustrates the value of a key component of doing things naked: powerful vision. most notably a creative framework and “telescoping” technique developed by Robert Fritz and expanded by Bruce Elkin. visualizing scenes in which it enables him to play a heroic role. A Christmas Story. He daydreams constantly about the gun. Young Ralphie wants nothing as much as a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas. His actions increasingly align with his goal of obtaining the toy as he recognizes opportunities to persuade his parents to buy it.
a compelling image. our vision of an ideal world or community. values.g.72 The Secret. Establishing Vision What vision is After clarifying key elements of our authentic self.. “form follows idea” even with simple creations.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED 12. while vision is a motivational tool that helps focus our energies so we can create them.. Visions may be very large.. is answering the following what. e.”67 We might also think of visioning as “purposeful imagination.. although omitting several key components of the process and offering a largely supernatural explanation. stress the importance of utilizing vision for public office candidates and incumbents. Without visualizing.70 Williamson and Eakes outline some of the neuroscientific evidence behind visioning.69 Randall et al. we must develop a vision of what it will look like.”68 The true emphasis is upon our desired end results. we can more easily identify what’s truly important to us. As Gawain notes. and strengths in mind. further disseminated information on the power of visioning. where. before we’re able to create a meal. Before we make a bed.. we hold in our mind a vision of it being made. we’re less likely to chase visions that stem from superficial reasons. as defined by Elkin.g. when. When Hill interviewed Carnegie’s business colleagues. most of us couldn’t get through a typical day. With our purpose. their tips for success often emphasized vision. a vision of a finished birthday cake. and whom questions: . before we even begin thinking about how we’re going to obtain them.g. e. an idea perceived vividly in your imagination. is “a clear mental picture of a result you want to create. or they may be smaller and more concrete. e.71 Psychologist Milton Erickson reportedly cured a client’s facial acne by having them remove the mirrors from their dwelling. Many authors have highlighted the power of vision. Dave Ellis holds that a first step in defining our desires. A vision.
74 Note that it describes the state of the students at the end of the course–the desired end results: Figure 8: Example Vision for Students Upon Completing the Course • • • • • They all possess basic skills for defining challenges within a vision and current reality tension framework. and when used appropriately. they have a gravitational pull that motivates us to bring them into being. They possess an additional set of tools for managing adversity.NAKED IDEALISM • • • • What do I want? Where do I want to be in the future? When will I make my desired future occur? Whom do I want to be with in the future?73 The most powerful visions appeal to both logic and emotion. Before discussing specific guidelines for creating powerful visions. They focus upon positives and possibilities. designed to capture and store water from our downspout: . Leading Self and Others Through Purposeful Creating. They possess a draft of a meaningful life purpose. They feel re-energized and motivated to define and pursue visions. This is a more detailed vision I established for our homemade rain barrel irrigation system. we’ll examine a few examples. Following is a relatively basic vision I established for graduate students in my self-development course.
and I’m chatting with neighbors. experiencing and enjoying the results? This is one of the elements of a powerful vision. I’m productively accomplishing other work such as pulling weeds and harvesting herbs. I feel great knowing that we’re conserving at least 600 gallons of water per summer. as we’ll soon discuss. he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. do you begin to get the sense that you’re actually there.” -Buddhist proverb “Begin with the end in mind. all we have to do is keep walking. As you read the above details. I’m very excited that at least five people per week are learning about the benefits of sustainable living via our rain barrel system.” -Henry David Thoreau “If we are facing in the right direction. The water gushes from the downspout during a rainstorm.” -Stephen Covey . Why vision is so important A number of oft-cited quotations emphasize the importance of vision: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams. The soaker hose runs out to the front yard and covers a 4 x 15 planting area. and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined. and an overflow tube routes water back into the drain when the barrels fill with 150 gallons of water.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Figure 9: Example Vision for a Rain Barrel System • • • • • • Three side-by-side barrels are connected to capture 150 gallons of water. While the garden is being watered. • Twenty neighbors decide to install rain barrels after seeing ours.
76 Leadership consulting firms often assess managers’ abilities to create clear and compelling visions. “Hey. Gottlieb urges board members and executive directors to define what they wish to accomplish (i. This is true of large organizations. Even if others aren’t interested in being involved first-hand.e. our options are likely to be limited to the following: • • • We can react.. we can be proactive. The earlier case of .NAKED IDEALISM When we have a clear definition of what we want and where we are headed.e. For example. and with entire communities addressing challenging issues such as sustainability. We can act in a manner that helps to fulfill others’ visions–which may or may not align with our own values and visions.. when you realized that you weren’t clear on how to get there? Operating without a vision is like anxiously driving with the pedal to the floor to get somewhere on time. then a clear vision will help to ensure that everyone’s thoughts and actions align so they can move in a common direction–toward a desired end result.77 Revisiting our visions regularly also conditions our mind to remain open to opportunities that will help us to achieve what we desire.. Do any of the above sound as desirable as acting in line with visions based upon our authentic self? Clear visions are also key for attracting and motivating other people who can help us to attain our desired end results. our focused message and energy will still help them to remember us when other appropriate resources come their way..75 When we have vision.e. but without a map or any sense of the destination. we can organize our thoughts and actions to take us there more efficiently. Have you ever been on a tight schedule to get somewhere as soon as possible. and to lead with them. and say. they might meet a friend who’s interested in building an ecologically friendly home in Pittsburgh. We can act in an uncoordinated fashion. in “problem solving” mode.” If you’re already involved with coordinating small or large groups of people. Without a vision. i. the end result) rather than merely defining what they’re doing (i.. current actions that may or may not lead toward a clearly defined end result). you need to connect with this guy I recently met named Dave Wheitner.
who often miss the parking spots that she sees. even in crowded parts of the city–because she visualizes a parking spot. six-barrel system.78 In other words. they close themselves off to many of the possibilities. I began with the intention of building only a three-barrel system. she explained. This. with scientific evidence of this coming later. Developing compelling and detailed visions can motivate us to go far beyond where we would normally go. more focused vision can broaden one’s peripheral awareness. This suggests the seemingly paradoxical conclusion that a sharper. Another participant agreed. noting that his “peripheral vision for parking spots” is better when he actively visualizes one. our subsconscious might alert us if it’s pertinent to a result we’re set on achieving. but require the proper mindset to notice them. Following a vision based process with the guidance of a coach.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Ralphie is but one example of this. Hill noted the power of vision to “put our subconscious to work for us” decades ago. I ended up with what is now a 300-gallon. In the example of the rain barrel irrigation system. In one of my workshops. a participant noted that whenever she’s driving she always finds a parking spot. Because they’re not as confident that they’ll find a spot. The rain barrel irrigation system: a result of visioning . is in stark contrast to other drivers she frequently rides with. Opportunities may subtly present themselves. even if our conscious attention is not focused on something.
” “Great class–much more than I had expected! And probably the most useful of all. electrochemical sensors placed on a softball pitcher’s arm will register nerve impulses from her brain as she envisions throwing one flawless pitch after another. vision exercises and develops the brain and communication pathways that we utilize in actually carrying out tasks. Wheitner deserves a raise!” • • • I give much credit to the vision-based creation process for the above results. I created detailed visions for my students and for myself as described earlier. Athletes and artistic performers who mentally rehearse specific movements create measurable impulses in the corresponding muscles–the same impulses that occur during actual physical performance. Thus.NAKED IDEALISM I also utilized such a process to create and teach the self-development course I mentioned earlier.” “Great class that. For example. What results did these visions help me to achieve? Below are some of the responses that two-thirds of them submitted via the optional “additional comments” section on an anonymous survey: • “This was a strong class that has made me think about life and my direction in life. I had never designed or taught a class before. I think Mr. Thanks!” “This class was top-notch. which in turn inspired me to write this book. I hope that my students continue to find the concepts useful. let alone a graduate course. Some of the students had many more years of professional and life experience than I... and inform.79 They do not actually need to be engaged in the activity for this to occur. The curriculum was useful and timely. striking out opposing team members and winning the game–all while she relaxes in a psychology lab armchair.I can’t say enough about how impressed I was with Dave’s ability to teach.. direct.is paying dividends in my life-personally and professionally. and once again when I began to teach it. lead. both in their personal lives and in their community leadership endeavors. As I learned the vision-based creative process with my coach. This was also my best professor. I experienced some anxiety when I set out to create it.. Finally. Are you ready for a workout? .
as we’ll discuss later. . “I am the first person to finish the 5K run. don’t do don’t. envision a neighborhood that does have safety and peace.81 As you clarify each vision of what you want. Make your vision as “naked” as possible. prefers very concrete visions for certain areas of their life. not in terms of what you don’t want or want less of. as we’ll discuss. Place your vision in first-person present tense. When working toward results that are in sync with who you are. Ellis suggests that we “imagine paradise times four. Later we’ll discuss how to include words like “choose” so that we don’t confuse our vividly envisioned future with our current reality.” This creates more emotional energy than visualizing yourself from the sidelines. however. What elements of your purpose and values tie into it? What does it do for you? This may provide additional motivation. I feel the tape snap as I glide over the line. stripping it of judgment or constraints driven by current reality. One of my life coaching clients. Several reporters’ cameras flash on either side of me. State your visions in terms of what you do want or want more of. or that it’s actually driven by a deeper want. or in the future.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Guidelines for creating powerful. and relatively “loose” visions for others. This is better to discover sooner rather than later.”82 Large and difficult visions can always be broken down into more manageable pieces. You may discover something new about your values or purpose. Rather than envisioning a neighborhood that does not have crime and noise. don’t be afraid to dream big. naked visions There’s no hard and fast rule stating that you need to follow each and every one of the suggestions below. As you start out. While you don’t want to be completely unrealistic and set yourself up for failure. this may drive us to create conflict with others. I’d recommend incorporating more of the guidelines to see how they work for you.” so that “if you only get one-fourth of what you want. for example. You might even realize that you don’t really want it. Do think do.80 Different personalities and different visions may require different approaches. Create visions of results that are aligned with your authentic self. Escaping what you don’t want is problem solving. so you can really imagine the experience of achieving your end result–this gets the motivational juices going. ask yourself why you want it. you’ll pursue them with much more energy. Never envision results that violate your sense of right and wrong. you will still end up with paradise.
We’ll address a few types of mental obstacles later. if you state that you want to weigh less.” “Mentally erase” people who decrease your vision energy.g. try something specific like. This may be the case.” or “I’m comfortably wearing the size X pants that I became too large to wear three years ago. Now that you know some of the guidelines for developing visions. You might even try to understand their interests and imagine how you could relate to them in a mutually beneficial fashion. If you envision your organization gaining customers from your competitor. and visualizing just doesn’t have the same power for you. consider the reasons why your vision may not resonate with you. If you believe this to be the case. “I’m performing before audiences of 20. As Elkin advises. (Ellis reminds us that we can always bring them back later.000 and I’m on the road three months per year.. try putting them out of mind temporarily as you create your visions. It may simply be that you’re more of a verbal person. then simply losing two ounces fits your definition of progress. If you feel that others in your life limit your ability to achieve what you wish. you can write a brief “future biography. if we imagine our mother nagging at us to become a doctor every time we try to visualize our desired life as a famous wildlife photographer.” This entails composing one to two paragraphs similar to what many people post on websites or in brochures–with a few major and exciting differences.” Include a deadline date so your visions aren’t lost in the shuffle of life’s other demands.000 people. for example. try to rely a little more on verbal affirmations.) 83 If you have difficulty visualizing what you want even while using the above guidelines. Perhaps beliefs or fears are blocking you. To start. . For example. and it will also enable you to measure your progress better. consider that this may involve a great deal of traveling. then your vision might include. Honestly include all aspects of your vision. visualize your competitor finding better opportunities to provide value. Greater clarity will create a stronger motivational pull.NAKED IDEALISM Visualize positive outcomes for all involved. Avoid comparison terms like less or more. For example. don’t leave important items out. if you want to be a popular music star performing before audiences of 20. If you desire limits on your traveling. Be as specific as possible about what you want. “I weigh 160 pounds. Keep in mind that you can always adjust them slightly if necessary. you can begin to focus more upon your desired future. e. Instead. you may feel that you do not deserve success.
Write in the first-person and present tense–and. Include as much detail as possible. this will get the creative vision juices flowing and provide an opportunity to practice some of the vision creation guidelines before moving on. . it is only part of the picture. we describe who we are via our previous experiences and accomplishments. romantic relationships. Imagine what you’d like your life to look like a year or five years from now. and so on. and who is around you. friendships. how you feel. In an attempt to achieve these ends. focusing upon whatever areas of your life stand out as being most important. If you have difficulty. as well as a description of something specific you’ve created as part of it. try to follow as many of the previously suggested vision guidelines as possible. of course. However. incorporating concepts from upcoming sections. don’t force it. right? This is somewhat ironic when we consider a common purpose of biographies: to attract individuals with whom we may have mutually beneficial relationships–this could include business relationships. and thus need to attract very different people to support that? Wouldn’t a future biography convey a fuller and more honest depiction of who we really are? Let’s get started: • • • • • • Find a relaxing location where you can clear your mind.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Exercise: Write Your Future Biography How many biographies have you read that focus only upon a person’s past? Most that you’ve seen probably fit this description. including what you’re doing. What if we want to create a future that is very different from our past. just set it aside and return to it later. Spend half an hour to an hour writing or typing a vivid description of your ideal life. While often useful. Consider including an overall description of the future life you’ve just created. It doesn’t need to be perfect! You’ll most likely want to return to it later.
I asked. (Coincidentally. “Wow.” I was silent for a brief moment of disbelief. “That’ll be fifty cents!” he exclaimed as he poured the cup. This 10-year-old was exhibiting clarity of intent that many of us misplace as the years pass. softspoken and serious-looking boy selling lemonade along the sidewalk. in tune with their internal wants and values. we overcomplicate things in our minds. “I hope he runs for public office someday!” At one point I even considered turning back to put a few dollars in his jar–his selfless energy made me want to contribute more to his cause than he had requested. that’s really thoughtful of you! I hope you sell a lot of lemonade!” As I continued home. and must later rediscover. and the power with which it hit me. I decided to stop for a few moments to buy a glass. I was walking near our home when I approached a small. “I’m planting flowers for the neighborhood.NAKED IDEALISM As you gain clarity with your future biography. Dropping the quarters into his palm. and observe how your life begins to change. “What are you raising money for?” I expected him to mention an MP3 player or a video game system. a common coaching goal is to develop—or redevelop—a . you may consider utilizing segments of it in your introductions when you meet people. Although in a hurry. I reflected upon the very matter-of-fact manner in which he stated his intentions. This example illustrates that even a 10-year-old can be driven by the power of a simple vision and clear intent. which can decrease our power and motivation. Real-life lesson: Not your average 10-year-old Often as we grow older. I thought to myself. A few years ago.
most residents had apparently stopped questioning its existence. Thus. not quite sure what to say next. threw on my coat and shoes. I had previously all but given up on my own attempts to control that annual patch of ice. I assumed that he was probably hoping to earn a little spending money. thank him for his efforts.”) The following winter. and a man had supposedly slipped and broken his leg some years prior. even though pedestrians still had to walk out into the street to avoid it. I decided it best to go outside.” Was he currently raising funds for next year’s planting? “Hey. still chipping away at the ice. “I saw the ice and thought somebody might slip on it. alongside the street. wielding what looked like an ice-chipping or digging tool. as neighbors had explained that it emanated from a continuously flowing underground stream. Some consider this an element of the “Law of Attraction. I grabbed several dollars out of my wallet. For a moment. As he looked up. he replied. As I peered out the window. He was eagerly attempting to whittle away a very large buildup of ice that had formed along a lengthy stretch of the sidewalk. I was working at the computer when I heard a repetitive metallic banging noise emanating from the rear of our house. I was startled to see a small boy bundled up in his winter coat. offer him a few dollars for whatever allowance fund he might have. and dump sand on it every few days. Not that he was even waiting for a response. and tell him that I would be putting sand on the ice later that day. and walked down to speak with him. the ice had formed there every winter for over 30 years.” He looked back down and continued to chip away. I’m impressed with your efforts! What motivated you to come down the street on such a cold day to work on this?” Very matter-of-factly and without a pause. But here . I realized it was the same boy who had been selling lemonade to “plant flowers for the neighborhood. but I didn’t want him to risk injuring himself while working on the slippery ice with a sharp tool. By and large. On a site affectionately labeled the “Aylesboro Wetlands” by long-time residents. The best we thought we could do was to put up caution tape each winter.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED gravitational sense of confidence that helps to draw resources to accomplish one’s vision. His energy and determination suggested that he was oblivious to the size of the task ahead of him. I again stood there dumbfounded.
Eventually. With their energy. unadulterated vision of a safe and healthy neighborhood. I stuck with my original plan of praising him for his good deed. the vision was nonetheless achieved. It took me a few moments to determine what to do. momentum grew. and that I’d rather it be me than him. I began to “chip away at the ice” more proactively myself. It’s certainly not always easy to keep this perspective. he’d just keep chipping away at the ice. and submitted it to those leaders. giving him some money to add to his fund. but I still felt concerned that he might injure himself. I developed a vision for a safe sidewalk and contacted several neighbors and public officials about the issue. a few more neighbors came fully on board to champion the cause. This was due to several people maintaining the attitude of the young boy: He probably wouldn’t concern himself with such complexities. and letting him know that I’d do something about this ice. and established an online community discussion group. Within a few months. At the same time. the driveway was repaired with private funds. and within a year of that. trying not to think about the size of a task that seemed to grow larger with each step. . safe. seemingly out of a pure sense of concern for others. and sustainable community. I further clarified a vision for a healthy. I placed a petition that was signed by 70 pedestrians. a dozen households on the block pledged money. youthful.NAKED IDEALISM was a 10-year-old energetically taking the initiative to address the problem. but it can be helpful. I told him he was right that somebody could slip and suffer an injury. his actions also made me realize that I had somehow failed to act upon my own wishes for a safe and healthy neighborhood. While I had envisioned a slightly different path to a safe driveway. Following minimal responses. Not too long after that. Following two stories in local newspapers and a meeting with local agency directors at our house. there was still minimal response. I didn’t want to destroy his youthful naked idealism and initiative. Ultimately. I discovered that the issue stemmed from an abandoned coal mine. No public money was needed. driven by his clear. bringing with it a host of governmental and regulatory complexities.
) It would be great to be able to wear that to the reunion! The more he thinks about this. But then as he’s going through his mail. (Ahhh. Fritz notes that “energy moves along the path of least resistance. What we wish to be doing versus what we are currently doing. Given Keirsey’s observation that idealists’ “preferred time and place are the future and the pathway. As we strive to become naked idealists who create results. This can include discrepancies between any of the following: • • • Who we wish to be versus who we currently perceive ourselves to be. life coaches and executive coaches are taught to “coach to the gap. Allowing ourselves to feel the creative tension or gap between where we are (current reality) and where we want to go (vision) is what propels us forward.” For example. What we wish to have versus what we currently have. (Gasp!) He’d really like to be in good shape for it. even though he’s currently 180 pounds. covering elements and techniques that some popular works have omitted.”84 We will now discuss how to establish such a path.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED 13. having just a vision of our desired results isn’t enough. He visualizes how good he felt when he was 160. he discovers a reminder that his 10-year college reunion is coming up in only three months. For this reason. and able to fit into his favorite dance club outfit. we will encounter obstacles. Setting Up a Creative Framework The power of tension In most cases. the more tension he feels . he hasn’t given much thought as to what his ideal weight would even be. The truth is. suppose Joe is getting ready to make a big batch of brownies. we must also design a means for getting there. despite the fact that he often complains about his weight.85 Humans have a natural need to resolve tension resulting from contrasting thoughts.” this type of approach should fit many of us quite well.
the brownies don’t sound like such a good idea. I utilized a handlebarmounted odometer that I would reset to “0” each morning. he instead considers a fresh fruit smoothie. On the most difficult days. An example appears in the table below. so I could keep track of how many miles I had already gone for the day. Given the 20-pound gap now in his mind. 100% of students take the SAT. key elements of your current reality and vision should contrast in a way that allows you to really see and feel the gap when you hold them side by side in your mind. thinking about how happy I would be when it actually occurred. From time to time. I was holding in mind a vision alongside current reality. I was using some of the same techniques outlined here without being conscious of it. Also in my mind was the number that would appear on my odometer when we had finally reached our destination. . Figure 10: Example of Contrasting Elements between Vision and Current Reality Vision Components 75% of children in Idealville attend college. That was my constant reminder of current reality. I became so exhausted that I nearly fell asleep while pedaling–never before had I imagined it would be possible to fall asleep while exercising! How did I get through those days? In retrospect. during the crosscountry cycling trip mentioned earlier. No students take honors courses yet. I would look at the odometer and envision the final mileage appearing on the screen. On occasion. Current Reality Components 20% of children in Idealville attend college. (I still get a bit excited recalling that!) In other words.NAKED IDEALISM between where he currently is and where he wants to be.800-mile trek were truly grueling. Some of the days of the 3. 25% of students take the SAT. involving 80 to 100 miles of riding through hot and humid weather. All students take at least one honors course. which maintained tension. To help create the body he envisions. I experienced a simple example of creative tension in 1997. that really kept me going. When possible.
on the other hand.87 In other words. planning in many settings such as business. “It’s 20 Fahrenheit.86 While these techniques may be useful in some settings. and the roads appear to be salted. Additionally.” As Ellis explains. we must be realistic about where we are so that we can take proper steps to get from point A to point B. Otherwise it’s easy to get caught up in limiting but statements such as. the roads are too slippery. For example. government.” then I remain motivated for action. I’m likely to become irritated. you’re not allowing reality to limit your vision. we must keep in mind current reality alongside our vision to establish creative tension. and on Saturday morning it’s 20 Fahrenheit and snowing. they will hold us back in others. we keep current reality from emotionally pulling us down. Don’t blow your top! Simply acknowledge any negative feelings or frustration you have. it’s snowing. If. For example. Next. By avoiding positive judgment. there are several helpful guidelines for describing current reality. we don’t want to utilize judgment. If I say to myself. noting that the current state of reality doesn’t alter your desired end results. describe current reality only after you’ve defined your vision–this way. either negative or positive. we avoid the risk of overestimating how close we already are to achieving our desired results. By avoiding negative judgment. and this just isn’t fair. suppose that I’ve been looking forward to a bicycle ride all week. and education is often done by examining past data to predict what will happen in the future. I’m more likely to remember that I have metal . “It’s too cold outside. I say to myself. “I want to be a doctor. and am probably not likely to go for a ride.” then I’m allowing judgment to cloud my thinking.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Describing current reality As mentioned. As with defining powerful visions. and it’s easier to maintain the positive thought and behavior necessary to keep moving toward our vision. that distorts reality through our own values lens. simply describe and accept current reality as objectively as possible. Just state the facts. but I haven’t taken the necessary courses to get into medical school. and keep my mind open to possibilities. First.
Our rowhome is situated on a very hilly property. while “I make $10 per hour” is factual and objective. “I want mine to look just like that!” convert the objects of jealously and envy into components of your vision. “I don’t make enough money” is a judgmental comparison. while “20 Fahrenheit outside” is a more factual and objective term. it’s important to avoid use of “comparison” words rather than concrete terms. segmented by a few retaining walls. In the example above. On a number of occasions.NAKED IDEALISM studded snow tires and a thick fleece. In describing current reality objectively. once I began to accept that we have a hilly and segmented yard. decreased the energy and enthusiasm I had to be truly creative with the space we have. Some of the segmented-off portions of the yard would be perfect for growing plants that had a reputation for taking over the garden. Whether it’s your neighbor’s tiny tush or their spacious sunroom that makes you say. and a number of delicious herbs. such as mint. more continuous yard. I began to have exciting realizations. Once I developed creative tension incorporating non-judgmental acceptance of current reality. of course. “too cold” is a judgmental comparison term. and redirect your emotional energy and your authentic self to create what you envision. a primary hobby for the last few years.89 Then.88 This is identical to the concept we discussed under guidelines for defining powerful visions. and I’ll continue to brainstorm about how I can achieve my vision of an enjoyable bicycle ride. However. This.Naysaying + Vision + You = What You Want! . setting aside judgment. Gardening. consider my “envy conversion formula”: E-N+V+Y=W Energy . Jen and I both lamented not having a flatter. quit telling yourself you can’t have what you want. To implant this concept in your mind. envision thine own. This included a rain barrel system that irrigated a significant portion of the garden. has taught me the value of accepting current reality without judgment. I could more easily generate visions of what it could be. Suffice to say we now have a reasonable number of items growing in our yard! Do not covet thy neighbor’s ass. The significant difference in elevation from the back patio (below the rain downspout) and the front yard could provide water pressure for a gravity-dependent irrigation system if part of the garden were located in the front yard.
” No amount of effort will recover them. have you ever gone to an “all you can eat” food buffet. Had I simply accepted the sunk cost. so you can begin to create it. and miss out on a great deal of life doing so. You get the picture. or even a graduate program based upon what felt safe. “I’ll never be able to do that–Ryan really annoys me!” We can recognize this as a sign of what we want. suppose that while we’re defining our current reality. and any efforts to do so will simply result in additional expense to us.g. This would include spending a decade in a legal job that we despise. I could have enjoyed my meal as well as the next several hours of my life. Some people spend years attempting to recover larger sunk costs. We may have chosen a living location. Rather than expending energy and time fretting over it. I didn’t recover any of my already-spent money. e. but I did decrease my quality of life for several hours.. “I do not yet have a graduate degree” rather than simply stating.90 One way to do this is by using words such as yet. The simple fact may be that we made important decisions during times when we weren’t focused upon what is truly important to us.” Another way is to avoid linking verbs and adjectives that suggest a permanent trait or condition. energy. In describing current reality. instead using action verbs. simply include “a tropical vacation by [preferred date]” somewhere in your visions. “I am ignorant” and “We are not smart enough” have a very permanent sound to them. what we thought would provide us with a secure paycheck. How can we act to change something that’s permanent? “I do not yet possess the necessary knowledge” and “We have not yet obtained the information” sound like something less permanent that we can act upon. not knowing that we’d later discover things much more valuable to us.91 For example. and so on. “I don’t have a graduate degree. also use language to remind yourself that it’s not necessarily permanent. Economists often call these “sunk costs” or “stranded costs. we realize that we envy our friend Ryan for taking a tropical vacation each year. it’s also important to avoid being driven too much by the past. feeling we need to get our money’s . For example.” In making myself feel sick. Clarify what you want the vacation to look like. and money that may be largely unrelated to our new visions.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED For example. This includes non-recoverable investments of time. a job. only to realize that the amount you’d be able to eat was worth much less than what you had already paid? When I did this. When describing current reality. I stuffed myself beyond the point of comfort in a vain attempt to “get my money’s worth.
As Henry David Thoreau noted. flexibility is vital. likewise. Defining action steps: The strategy for getting there Once we’ve clearly defined where we wish to go and where we currently are. your work need not be lost. i. (By the way. First.93 Intermittently step back to look at the big picture and assess where you are in the process. As mentioned earlier.. If we wish to learn from our errors and change methods when they’re not working.e.) Additionally. and I have two close friends who can provide me with advice about applying to graduate schools. you’ll want to include both positive and negative facts in your description of current reality. If this is not initially the case. it’s helpful to avoid becoming too emotionally attached to our end results. we’re particularly likely to face adversity requiring us to flex our approaches. we must create a concrete plan of action to bridge the gap between them–the path for getting from current reality to vision.”94 In defining action steps. so you can adjust your approach as necessary. We’ll discuss how to do this soon. positives help to boost confidence and remind us of resources we can leverage as we work toward our vision.NAKED IDEALISM worth out of our law degree. it helps to . Because as idealists we’re often challenging the status quo with our visions. “If you have built castles in the air. Note again that these are positive and negative facts. Beyond this. I already have an undergraduate degree. it’s helpful to avoid becoming too set upon how we get there. Now put the foundations under them. continually revise your description of current reality as you progress or regress.” While the negatives provide a contrast from the vision and help to set up tension. do we have a way of knowing when we’ve completed each action step? Related to this.95 This will help to avoid the issue of becoming too rigid in our strategies. we want to make sure that they’re doable. I’m using law only as an arbitrary example here. We also want to see that they’re measurable in some way. we don’t need to lay out the entire roadmap. that is where they should be. “I do not yet have a graduate degree. other than seeing that they actually lead from current reality toward vision. we may need to break them down further. Finally. just the major next steps. not judgments or opinions.92 For example. there are only a few important rules to follow when creating action steps.
but whenever possible. Recall that I wanted to empower the students to make their dreams a reality while expanding my own knowledge and abilities. using our strengths is likely to move us toward our visions more rapidly. Related to this. we should also attempt to incorporate our strengths into our action steps wherever possible. There may be occasions where we find ourselves in such dire circumstances that we have few options. Following is the three-part creative tension framework for the self-development graduate course I described earlier. Additionally. Keep in mind that it’s not necessarily a sign of failure or inability if you don’t meet the deadline. so I needed two visions: one of my desired outcomes for the students and one of my desired outcomes for myself. As suggested earlier. I had to do some guessing when defining current reality. This is the framework for the former. . and it’s also likely to be more fun! As with our visions. you may also need to do this from time to time. win-win is the best route to go. including action steps between vision and current reality. we must also do our best to respect others’ well-being with our action steps or strategies. it may simply be that you chose not to do it or prioritized something else.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED add some type of goal date to aim for. our action steps should also honor our values so we’re acting with integrity.
you may be eager to jump to the action steps without first generating vision and current reality. I provide useful feedback on their papers. scientific evidence suggests that vision and action steps complement one another. Do you prefer to remain relatively open-ended and spontaneous in your approaches. They possess an additional set of tools for managing adversity. I provide feedback on their draft purpose statements. Several feel at risk of burning out. utilizing the vision and current reality framework without establishing action steps at all. and define anything lacking clarity. They all possess a draft of a meaningful life purpose. They are not managing adversity in an optimal fashion. the latter of which are somewhat similar to action steps. Initial action steps • • • • • I provide useful feedback regarding the course concepts on the discussion boards. you may be tempted to scale down this approach a great deal. Williamson and Eakes differentiate between visions and goals/objectives.96 From a neurophysiologic perspective. if you’re very actionoriented in your approach. . they discuss why it is highly beneficial to have both. They feel energized and motivated to define and pursue visions.NAKED IDEALISM Figure 11: Creative Tension Framework for Graduate Students in My Self-Development Course Vision for students (upon completing class) They all possess basic skills for defining challenges within a vision and current reality tension framework. Current reality for students Many define their current situation primarily in terms of problems. I have fun and illustrate a sense of humor. without committing to much structure? If so. However. They focus upon positives and possibilities. Likewise. The majority do not yet possess a clear definition of life purpose. and help them to apply the concepts. I answer any questions they have.
activates additional segments of our brains. reasoning. and concrete in nature. and sense what it feels like to have achieved them. analysis and planning. and visions the right. When we put the left and right brain together through a combination of vision. Williamson and Eakes explain that the left side of the brain “is involved in linear. These segments increase our “peripheral vision” as discussed earlier. and current reality. Goals and objectives. sequential processing that involves logic. step-by-step. The right side is involved in simultaneously comprehending and processing various kinds of data. like action steps. The right side.” Thus. visions are compelling and detailed descriptions of desired end results. . we can almost see them before us. upon generation of detailed visions. we have the best of both worlds. When created properly. The left side of our brain enables us to move efficiently through action steps to get the job done. such as images and pattern recognition. visions are more sensory in nature. action steps. increasing our awareness of resources that may be relevant to our vision. action steps trigger the left side of the brain. As discussed. are much more verbal. This awareness also provides additional possibilities for readjusting our approach when faced with adversity.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Essentially.
Consider practicing yoga.NAKED IDEALISM 14. Evidence on the brain’s receptivity to visualization suggests that the best times to do this are shortly after waking and shortly before sleeping. or sitting in a quiet spot under your favorite tree. Putting Our Visions to Work for Us Reviewing the creative tension framework daily After establishing a creative tension framework. we can enhance our motivation by holding vision and current reality side by side in our mind. taking a . Figure 12: Holding Creative Tension Combining relaxation techniques with visualization can be quite effective. utilize them. When maintaining motivation is a particular challenge. you may wish to hold them in mind more frequently. If you already have useful techniques such as meditating. for a few minutes twice daily. just the few that seem most important. as was the case for me on the long days of my bicycle trip. You don’t need to review every detail of them. deep breathing.
once we start to practice fully visualizing something with all its most important details.com. there’s no reason for lasting disappointment. If this happens. One classic exercise is progressive muscle relaxation. only to relapse. inhale as you tighten your muscles. and a Google search on “relaxation techniques” yields over two million results. before putting great efforts into creating something we don’t want. We can save ourselves a great deal of time by realizing this early on. more concrete visions and then move on to more complex ones as we gain practice. and other areas. Some were denying their current reality and the work they still needed to do on patience. I worked on the rain barrel system before designing a graduate course.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED hot bath. we may realize that we no longer really want it. or going for a walk. Avoiding denial of current reality I’ve seen individuals in addictions recovery recite present-tense affirmations such as “I’m patient” and “All is calm in my life” on a daily basis. Because resistance draws power. I outline some of them at idealistcoach. such as lighting candles or turning on music. There is a large difference between 1) vividly envisioning something we wish to create while still acknowledging our contrasting current . from head to toe. and then moved on to writing this book. and exhale as you release it. If you find it helpful to adjust elements of your environment. hold your breath for two to three seconds as you maintain the muscular tension. As you’re going through this process. which involves sitting or lying in a comfortable place. Simply acknowledge any negative thoughts or doubts that enter your mind without resistance. Gawain describes several exercises for grounding ourselves. just let them pass and return to your positive thoughts.97 It’s best to begin with smaller. tensing and then relaxing one part of the body at a time. Don’t forget areas such as your forehead and jaw. calmness. Modern technology also provides many beneficial tools for enhancing our visions and the emotions that accompany them. In some cases. do that as well. For example.
Elkin discusses acting for the sake of the creation itself. and Gawain suggests a simple exercise of imagining one’s vision encapsulated inside a bubble. The latter can set up conflicting thoughts that lead us to deny one of them. This would include the earlier example of desiring a larger house to compensate for feelings of inadequacy. Action steps are the best place for adjustments when flexibility is required.” Compare this to conflicting statements without choose. our identity and self-worth should not be dependent upon attainment of the end results. We may need to step back.98 Elkin suggests incorporating choice into our visions to avoid such conflicting thoughts. However. a vision statement like “I choose to bicycle 20 miles per week” does not set up a conflict with a current reality statement like “I now bicycle one mile per week. Fear of not obtaining a vision can begin to draw more of our energy than the vision itself. floating away to attract energy. A vision that causes fear or anxiety may be a caution sign that we’re attempting to fill a gap within ourselves through a creation. decreasing our motivation. This may pull us back into problem-solving mode. We forget that there’s more than one way to peel a banana! When that happens. reevaluate what we value. Detaching ourselves from our desired results does not necessarily mean letting our visions erode if things don’t work out as planned.NAKED IDEALISM reality. Another example of ego getting in the way: the earlier vignette regarding the abandoned coal mine and my desire to create a safe neighborhood. At many points in the process I faced barriers. and examine whether and how we’re meeting our basic needs. it’s helpful to keep our egos separate from what we seek to create. My hopes would rise in anticipation of a particular . we may also close our minds to even greater visions or opportunities that present themselves. if we get too emotionally attached to attainment of results. such as a vision statement of “I speak at five events per month” and a current reality statement of “I speak at one event per month. and hinder our ability to be flexible with our action steps. For example. we can lose our ability to think and act objectively.” Keeping ego out of our desired results Although we’ll probably be the most energized when working toward results that are important to us. In other words. and 2) simply reciting affirmations as though our current reality has already aligned with our visions.
I would continue to anticipate an eventual positive outcome regardless of what obstacles we faced. Regardless of when and how the neighborhood achieved the end result of a safe sidewalk. Such an attitude is particularly important for those of us in leadership positions where we must deal with multiple stakeholders and changing political tides. He would simply keep in mind his vision of the positive impact he wishes to have on the world. I had to recognize that when our desired results depend on the cooperation of others. a colleague noted how much calmer he seemed. seemingly without regard to facts and data. Mark had placed a high priority on the relationships. Fortunately. When I experienced the most frustration. and looked at the bigger picture once again. . A few of them had declined to support him at key points. Amidst the turmoil of a debate that he once would have allowed to trigger negativity. A coaching client. separated myself from the vision.” related examples of feeling betrayed by individuals with whom he had spent years establishing relationships.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED individual or organization helping us. One day. Mark decided that he “wasn’t going to take it personally” anymore–instead. primarily because officials other than Mark were in a better position to help them achieve their specific goals. and had expected them to do the same–he thus took it personally when they refused to support him. I would continue to create many other positive things in my life as well. and tired of dealing with the situation. a seasoned public leader whom we’ll call “Mark. as I began to brainstorm ways of addressing the immediate issue as quickly as possible: “How can we push the policymakers to act upon this?” “How can I make the currently uninvolved neighbors gain interest?” I simply found myself becoming angry. some factors will be beyond our control. frustrated. rise above the fray. I caught myself. He had made a decision to focus more upon himself and the factors within his direct control. however. it was often because I viewed the lack of progress as an indicator of my own abilities. I was tempted to resort to problemsolving mode. and fall again as I learned that they didn’t want to become involved in the issue. and accept the current reality facing him. and continue to do his best while also taking care of himself–regardless of obstacles and outcomes. he would focus on the bigger picture. “How can I write about achieving visions when I can’t even achieve a vision myself?” I would lament. Mark was also frustrated by witnessing votes divided among lines of established factions. These uncontrollable external factors had posed significant barriers to his larger visions. At those points.
whether it is doing yoga. savoring accomplishments of smaller visions en route to our larger ones. sitting in quiet reflection. As we get into the process of doing. we mustn’t entirely forget about being. This is particularly important to keep in mind if our larger visions span beyond our own individual lifetime. chances are good that we will enjoy much of our path to your destinations. or engaging in a hobby that allows us to clear our mind and be in the moment. something to be gotten through first. riding my bicycle. help to ground us in the present. working out. If we’ve created visions that are in line with who we are. Earlier we covered the value of meditative or relaxation exercises for improving the strength of visioning. Alfred D’Souza: “For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin–real life. . But there was always some obstacle in the way. a daily meditative process can also Jen stops to smell the flowers. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. and if we don’t connect our results to our personal identity too strongly. and have generated action steps that also build upon our strengths. or listening to a few minutes of music can do wonders for me. Happiness is the way.” In other words. time still to be served. Likewise. Jogging through the woods. we don’t want to forget about the importance of having fun in the present. We’ll also have more fun on the journey if we’re flexible with our initial action steps when necessary. Happiness is a journey. This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. not a destination. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one. some unfinished business. Take the wise words of Fr. we should strive to enjoy the process of getting where we wish to go.NAKED IDEALISM Celebrating & enjoying the journey As we allow our visions to pull us forward. a debt to be paid.
the rain stopped just long enough for us to have our outdoor ceremony. we may be more likely to notice the small wins. or didn’t even stop to recognize at the time? Avoiding holes of negativity In addition to focusing on the positive. how the inside of the peel looks and feels. For example. what strategy we use to peel it. I participated in another wedding where the DJ showed up to the reception nearly two hours late. However. We had planned an outdoor ceremony. what it sounds like when we peel it. The bride and groom had rented a beautiful location for the ceremony and reception. our problems were quite small compared to those of others. and a nearby stream flooded the area where it was to take place. the weddings still occurred. . Were there any that you had almost forgotten about. Often the negatives matter little in the bigger scheme of things. it’s important to minimize dwelling on the negative. and so on. the caterer suffered serious stomach issues and the original photographer had to undergo eye surgery–ironic but true. enjoyable moments. we can take careful note of how the outside looks and feels. In retrospect. and wonderful people we experience along the way. The guests all seemed to enjoy themselves as well. This may lead us to discover other things that we previously took for granted in our everyday lives. The CD with songs for several key points of the reception was lost. In fact. In yet another. Our wedding coordinator waded out into a small lake to retrieve the wedding trellis and move it to dry ground. and all worked out well in the end. but there was no music. The day Jen and I were married is a perfect example. The week prior to and during our wedding day. and we still had plenty of fun.99 We are likely to notice details that previously escaped us altogether. everything fell into place with the catering and photography. it rained heavily. As we pursue our visions. the delays in both cases provided some of us with additional opportunity to chat and catch up on one another’s lives.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Ellis notes how we can even utilize a simple activity such as eating an orange to get in touch with our surroundings. the groom’s mother slipped on the church steps and dislocated her arm only an hour before the ceremony. Just days before our wedding. resulting in great panic. Despite these misfortunes. especially if we don’t let them. What are some of the wins or enjoyable moments you’ve had today? Spend a minute jotting down five or six of them.
it can contribute to powerlessness. One marketing research company is experimenting with a novel technology: headband sensors that gauge viewers’ emotional responses to television commercials. problem-solving approach is particularly pervasive. but rather that we condition ourselves to view them differently. be it fire. this type of news is often the most likely to grab our attention. They have already begun to test viewers’ reactions to political advertisements as well. Perhaps you’ll see a way that your own actions can benefit them. The representative noted that many commercials follow this pattern of describing a problem. war. For example. even if indirectly. envision what positive outcome you’d like to see for those impacted by the tragedy. as they’re often simply catering to our already dominant way of thinking. Just as car accidents create rubbernecking. and may keep us in a pessimistic. when you hear or see a depressing news story. . the germs in it yield the equivalent of rubbing raw chicken on the counter and cabinet surfaces. and then shows how the career site saves the day. Although there are undoubtedly many media professionals who would love to report more positive news. problem-solving mindset. instilling a feeling of anxiety or fear. The problem-focused thinking that underlies much of the news and advertising worlds may continue to increase. We can’t just blame the media. A second ad for a career site describes a distraught person who currently hates their job.) The ad then shows the advertised cleaner coming in to save the day.100 It fills our mind with negative images and emotions. The company’s viewer testing technology is becoming very popular because advertisers want to know the magnitude of negative and positive emotion that their commercials generate–the greater the contrast. the larger the impact. conveys the message that if you’re cleaning your kitchen with a regular sponge. and then pairing the problem-solving product with uplifting music and imagery to induce a contrasting positive emotion.101 Advertising is a specific media arena where a negative. The first ad. for a kitchen cleaner. disease or crime.NAKED IDEALISM It is often difficult to avoid negativity.102 The company’s representative described two examples.103 I’m also not suggesting that we attempt to ignore all the world’s negatives. (That certainly makes me cringe. our airwaves are filled with depressing messages describing the problems of the world. Rather than helping us to see possibilities.
” Obviously she didn’t want me to anger any of our stakeholders purposely. If we wish to create change in our life and the world. and that mindset helped me to enjoy my work more–and to push forward more confidently. We can fall into an anxious. but she was highlighting that I wasn’t always going to be liked by everyone. reactive. and to stop those who don’t really want it that badly. and continue toward pursuit of our desired results. problem-solving pattern. know that many successful individuals report having breakthroughs just past the point of serious adversity. Rather than moving toward what we want. it also helps to know our favorite ways of distorting our thinking when we’re under stress. and needed to be prepared for that.104 Pausch holds that life’s “brick walls” exist to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Others believe that obstacles can present many opportunities for learning and growth.105 Again. working to create what we’ve envisioned. With practice. then we’re probably not changing all that much. This most often occurs as we’re actively carrying out our action steps. you’re probably not doing your job. Whenever you’re tempted to retreat from a vision.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Thinking rationally in the face of adversity Here we examine ways in which we can unintentionally build higher barriers for ourselves when obstacles place us under stress. Her words turned out to be true. we’re almost guaranteed to face challenges. alter them. we struggle to move away from pain and conflict– sometimes pain and conflict that we’ve created for ourselves. A former manager shared with me these wise words during a job that involved catalyzing a great deal of change: “If you’re not making at least a few people upset. While pursing our visions. we can recognize our irrational thoughts more quickly. when defining your visions. it’s important to be clear on what you’re willing to give to attain them. placing more obstacles in our own way. . If we don’t.
000 children from abusive or neglectful homes over the last year. Which of the below patterns do you engage in frequently? All-or-nothing thinking: We view things as black-and-white categories. I completely failed!” Overgeneralization: We view a single event as a never ending pattern. For example. which lead directly into a murky bog of mental quicksand.”107 We often fail to acknowledge the many positive events that happened alongside it. paraphrased below alongside examples I’ve added. our agency may have safely rescued 1. with no grey areas in between. “I can’t believe I missed one item on the 50-item exam.106 I occasionally find myself spiraling down the irrational thought tubes. I’m interrupted! Will it never end?” Mental filter: We pick a single negative event and dwell on it. but we spend much of our time thinking about the two who fell through the cracks through no fault of our own. distorting our view of reality–as Burns notes.NAKED IDEALISM Don’t blow things out of proportion! In Feeling Good. . “Every single time I sit down to write a grant proposal. David Burns outlines several common types of distorted thinking. “like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.
I have no idea what I’m doing half the time” (minimizing). possibly because others expect it of us. “I’m always such a bad person. Personalization: We see ourselves as the cause of an external event. “I’m an idiot. For example. but our progress has absolutely nothing to do with me. and that at least a dozen coworkers have also submitted reports recently. we convince ourselves that we know why someone is acting a certain way or how a situation is going to turn out. all the other funders will soon reject us as well. we make ourselves believe that we’re being forced to do it.” Labeling: This is a form of overgeneralizing where we attach a label to ourselves or another person rather than describing the error. No matter what I do.” and relates to our earlier discussion on values. “The foundation officer is ignoring me because she hates me. Rather than freely choosing to do something. “That mistake you made on the application is going to ruin our chances at obtaining funding forever!” (magnifying) or “I really appreciate your compliments regarding my leadership. and we assume she’s unhappy with the last report we submitted.” . our boss begins the weekly meeting with an angry scowl on her face. and on top of that.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Jumping to conclusions: Even though we don’t have sufficient facts to support it. usually negative. such labels suggest permanence. We’re driven by guilt rather than free will.” Magnifying (catastrophizing) or minimizing: We exaggerate or severely understate the importance of an action or quality. I’m surrounded by imbeciles!” As noted under guidelines for describing current reality. Should statements: This can also include “musts” and “oughts. This can pertain to us or to someone else. Some helping professionals advise clients to “stop shoulding on yourself” or “stop musterbating. and thus may not lead us toward productive selfimprovement efforts. We ignore the facts that she got a flat tire on the way to work. even though we weren’t the primary cause of it.
Exercise: Identify and Reduce Irrational Thinking Step one: Take a few moments and think back to a situation when you faced adversity and became frustrated or angry. ever get a date again. either supporting their validity or suggesting that they are distorted? (See example below. Now that I think about it. Rational “replacement” thoughts: It may not have been because of me at all! There’s no reason to believe I shouldn’t be able to get another date. . I don’t know why either of them turned me down. Evidence: This has happened to me with two other women in my life. she thinks I’m a dork.NAKED IDEALISM Making use of the above knowledge to improve our thinking requires practice. I’ll never. jumping to conclusions.) Which type(s) of distortion or irrational thinking were you using? What accurate and rational thoughts can replace the distorted ones? Example Situation: Cindy turned me down when I asked her out. Consider the following: • • • • What “automatic thoughts” did you have as a response to the adversity? What evidence do you have related to these thoughts. five women have agreed to go out with me at least once over the last year. Type of irrational thought(s): Overgeneralization. Below are some suggestions for getting started. Automatic thought(s): This always happens to me! Like all other women.
. and how much they increase from day to day. Over time. Show them the list of irrational thought types outlined earlier to give them some ideas. make an attempt to “catch” yourself at the time you’re having an irrational thought. This works best when you take a few moments each day to record information. rather than doing so every several days. or access a printable version at idealistcoach. As you record your instance(s) for that day. and don’t shoot the messenger. and correct your thinking on the spot. you can make copies of the blank form that follows this exercise description. After several days of tracking. Just be prepared for honest feedback. you may wish to draw several rows on a sheet of notebook paper to record this information. draw a star (or symbol of your choice) next to any that you corrected on the spot.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Repeat this with one or two other times when you faced adversity. around whom you’ve been upset or angry at least a few times. This should be someone who knows you well. as in the sample above. For each situation. Alternately. If you have difficulty spotting yours.com under Books/Naked Idealism (use the password “authentic” to access the downloadable tools link). consider asking a friend or loved one what types of irrational or automatic thoughts you tend to have. keep track of the same information for at least one instance per day when you are frustrated or angry. and you’ll improve your ability to describe your current reality more accurately. you’ll become better at catching yourself. Do you notice any patterns in your thinking? Step two: Over a two-week period. Step three: Catching and identifying our own irrational thoughts can be quite challenging. Take note of how many stars you accumulate over a week or two.
NAKED IDEALISM Rational Thought Progress Tracking Form Date: Description of situation: ___________ Automatic thought(s): Evidence: Type of irrational thought(s): Rational “replacement” thoughts: Corrected irrational thinking on spot? (circle one) Yes No -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Description of situation: Automatic thought(s): Evidence: Type of irrational thought(s): Rational “replacement” thoughts: Corrected irrational thinking on spot? (circle one) Yes No .
a spacious boat of a vehicle that was perfect for cargo-heavy excursions. “Well. looked back ahead. In some cases. however. The 80’s pop rock tunes of Def Leppard– from a tape Jay played at least 38 times a day–temporarily wafted through the neighborhood. everything seems to go wrong. “But I don’t want to have to carry all this stuff!” “Oh. Jay was the only one familiar with the area. from here. Thus. Mansfield. I’ve always enjoyed spending time in nature. we had arrived at the entrance to the unpaved road leading through the woods to the lake. had a lot of it. where I grew up. off we went with anticipation of adventure! Half an hour later. Following a slight readjustment of the trunk contents to accommodate my pole and tackle box. guys. heavy. Jay pulled up to our house in his Cutlass Oldsmobile. So try not to worry too much. it was not a car you’d want to drive on bumpy terrain unless absolutely necessary. “It looks like there are tire tracks on it. I was quite excited when my friend Jay called me one sunny summer Saturday afternoon. it’s about a 10-minute walk to the lake. Ohio. Gas mileage and pollution weren’t widespread concerns back then. the road doesn’t look so bad. wanting to know if I’d like to take a trip to nearby Sites Lake with him and three of his younger siblings. and relatively low to the ground. “You know. While I was never that crazy about fishing. everything does work out. even before moving toward a plant-based lifestyle. the adversity may seem to border the realm of absurdity.” Jay observed.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Real-life lesson: A boat-car between two trees Sometimes. you’ll be fine.” “NooOOOOoooo! You should have told us!” Jay and I exchanged glances. Sonja and Trey waved from the back seat as Jay opened the trunk so I could fit my lunch and equipment into the very small space remaining. despite our most valiant efforts. and sighed simultaneously. his first high school car.” .” “What?” came whining from the back seat. Chaz. it’s not that far. Large. A few moments of silence followed. Apparently room had run out by the time the kitchen sink begged to come along. In most cases.
Dave” he emphasized. and laid it down amidst the trees to melt into a dark brown goo. “I really do think we’ll be fine. This is going to take some teamwork. “It’s yo-o-o-ur car!” I enunciated in one last plea for reason. who farted?” “You guys calm down back there!” “Aaagh. “Okay. deer and other wilderness residents had soon joined us in listening to Def Leppard.NAKED IDEALISM “Yeah.” “How are we going to–“ “We’ll be fine!” . Soon. but aren’t those probably from off-road vehicles?” I replied. as though I expected to have a better chance at persuading them. we had been driving relatively slowly. The initial part of the trail was relatively smooth and flat riding. hoping to sway my friend from attempting a likely disaster. awaiting a response from me. and the front bumper had met a tree before the car slid too far down the gentle but very muddy slope. the trail began to tilt to the left slightly. The back wheels were still on the trail. I shifted my gaze from the glovebox to my own feet as I said this. so there was hope. “Are we almost there yet?” “Getting there!” “Ewww. although somewhat muddy and slick from recent rains. The squirrels. taken a few random bites out of the sides. “I think we’ll be fine!” A few sighs of relief and a small cheer emanated from the back seat. We all climbed out of the car to survey the situation. I knew the confident tone of someone who had already firmly established their vision and next action steps in their mind. guys. It was like a giant had licked a massive chocolate bar. What’s happening? Why are you steering like that?” “We’re sliding off the trail!” “What?” “Hold on!” “Aaaaaaagh!” Fortunately.
Chaz. . and Trey. chasing it in vain.” Just when all hope had begun to sink into the slippery mud. With our unintended assistance. The two men explained that this seemed to be the only “tricky” section of trail. the result reflected something quite less than the sum of our valiant efforts. the back end of the car had also meandered down the slope. stopping after 15 seconds. glanced back and forth at Jay and me. which was now immediately behind the rear bumper. and then at our feet. The car was now parallel to the trail. Thus. So off we went! The remainder of the afternoon was much more relaxing. with the combined clearance on both sides totaling just over a foot. perhaps expecting some words of profound wisdom. pushing. two men driving a true off-road vehicle approached us from the opposite direction. we were set on going to the lake. around which the car had rotated like a second hand. Again and again and again. and excepting a few close calls. what had halted the vehicle was a second tree. grunting and shouting. the trip back went much more smoothly. several feet downhill. but within 15 minutes we had pulled the car back up onto the trail with the assistance of their large winch. but it involved getting in and out of the car to shift weight. The tree against the front bumper was like the center of a clock face. they agreed to help. To make matters more interesting. Jay and I looked at each other blankly. momentarily quiet. Upon seeing our plight and clearly straining to hold back laughter. pulling. Our vision had apparently escaped us as we slid about in the slick mud. It took some skillful maneuvering to avoid the trees. even the most absurd cases of adversity have a way of getting worked out. Sonja. We didn’t go directly home as one might expect–after all that trouble. the glorious boat-car was trapped on the slope between two trees. “Hmmmm. In the end.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED I don’t recall the exact sequence of events that followed. as though they might have a response. When your progress seems to get lodged between two trees on a muddy hill. you’re likely to get back on the trail eventually. As you can see.
They can provide opportunities to learn about how we truly prioritize our values. This may occur as we define our visions more clearly. When I shift some of my attention back to that in the future.NAKED IDEALISM Managing unattained visions As discussed earlier. Since then. and choose to alter or abandon our vision rather than adopt new strategies. and what we are and are not willing to do to achieve certain ends. they are merely choices we have made in light of our circumstances. We may wish to shift our focus to something that is clearly important to us while we return to work on exposing our authentic self. Sometimes once we’ve made our visions known to the world. our likelihood of making additional progress will be greater. or as we actively begin to pursue them. We can usually resume pursuit of our unattained vision later if we determine it is still a priority. but also to avoid dependency upon achieving all of one’s goals–especially those that may take longer than one lifetime. It may be driven by core values that we haven’t yet clarified. we may need to ask ourselves how important it really is to us. If we find ourselves in a pattern of frequent failure to achieve a particular goal or vision. Deborah Du Nann Winter advises environmental advocates to maintain an optimistic attitude. For example. we can return to them with a renewed mindset and additional resources. a few additional people have kindly offered their ideas and willingness to assist. they will attract energy and opportunities even when we’ve shifted our regular attention away from them. This may result in continued confusion as to whether it’s really worth it. . so that I could devote more to completing this book. we must recognize that vision abandonments aren’t failures reflecting upon our own worth or abilities–rather. We may face more adversity than expected. Later. They are decisions to shift our time and energy to things that have become more important to us. as we determine what steps are actually required. It may reflect superficial “should” values.108 This may be good advice for all of us. So that we don’t lose confidence. I decided that I needed to temporarily withdraw most of my energy from the safe sidewalk vision discussed earlier. we sometimes realize that we no longer wish to pursue a vision.
I vacillated between the desire to have freedom to set my own direction. It was suddenly up to me to call the shots. . Additionally. I wasn’t sure where to begin. Upon assessing my values. as even the most driven overachievers can stumble here. Even if we have already been extremely successful with smaller visions and action steps. as our increasing naked idealism leads to larger visions and complex action steps that must be broken down further? If we try to tackle steps that are too big and complicated. or from a structured organization to our own self-defined business. They are not alone. to establish the larger visions. from a position with little decisionmaking authority to one with great responsibility. I would need tools for simplifying some of the complexity. I felt somewhat lost upon having a more open slate. we may quickly become discouraged. With a large number of interests and concerns about the world. Leaving school. the prospect of greater complexity may be overwhelming at first. I realized that I had to accept this responsibility. or may be in the midst of doing so. You or someone you know may have already wrestled with such a shift. We often face such struggles when we exit an environment where someone else has already defined all or most of the big picture and major action steps for us. and the desire to have someone else bear the responsibility for setting the direction. and we suddenly become responsible for doing more of this ourselves. What happens. however. Pursuing Larger Visions The framework we’ve discussed so far works well with relatively simple. For example. I experienced a similar feeling when I transitioned from predefined jobs to my own consulting and coaching businesses. I’ve always done very well in academic settings. This includes shifting from school to paid employment. however. short-term visions and concrete action steps. given the type of life I desired. playing by the rules and figuring out what needed to be done.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED 15.
1.000 per year in profit. This might involve some relatively large action steps. Hire and train staff. As you can see. the “renovate building” step alone may require a great deal of planning time. 1. For example. Renovate building. Take a moment to consider a relatively complex . Locate neighborhood and site by Nov. Only one vegan entrée and dessert offered. with seating capacity of 50. Eco-friendly construction. hiring of tradespeople. 1.NAKED IDEALISM As an example of a more complex vision. I work an average of 40 hours per week. Five hundred customers are served each week. Plan menu. Figure 13: Creative Tension Framework for Vegan Restaurant Vision Smithville’s first all-vegan restaurant. Current reality I co-own a non-vegan café with seating capacity of 20. and so on.000 in startup costs saved. coordinating with the city zoning board. Purchase building by Dec. Building of current café very inefficient and poorly constructed. as illustrated below. and a $10. Ten different vegan entrees and five vegan desserts offered each week.000 per year in profit after splitting it with the co-owner. I make $50. I work 60 hours per week. I make $25. suppose that we wish to create our city’s first vegan restaurant. additional breaking down of the action steps might be needed so we don’t become overwhelmed. Initial action steps • • • • • • Save $20.000 in additional funding for startup costs by Oct. Located in a neighborhood with second highest crime rate in city. I have $20.000 plot of land I can sell. Located in a popular business district near other amenities.
along with a corresponding current reality and set of smaller action steps. Figure 14: The Structure of Telescoping From Elkin (2003). and so on) can be converted into its own second-level vision. In our restaurant example. the sideways arrows show the conversion of action steps to visions. Fritz devised a technique called telescoping. renovate the building. locate a neighborhood and site. each of the five action steps (raise $20. In the below illustration from Elkin. Telescoping Any of the action steps from the vegan restaurant example could be broken out into smaller chunks to make them more manageable. each with its .000 in additional funding for startup costs. The upwards-pointing arrows simply represent the movement toward vision from current reality via the action steps.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED result you wish to create that has very large initial action steps. To accomplish this feat. in which we convert each action step into its own detailed vision. How will you begin? How might you simplify everything? Following is one promising approach.
NAKED IDEALISM own corresponding current reality and action steps. even some of the second-level action steps such as “obtain market data” could use additional simplification via further telescoping. Anticipating such needs can save us a significant amount of effort later. and so on. The action steps below it are somewhat smaller and manageable. The process is again repeated for second-level action steps that need to be broken out into further detail. Some of the remaining primary-level action steps will also need to be telescoped out. locating a neighborhood and site. However. As we begin to expand our plan and understand the true amount of effort involved. . we may also see a need to adjust deadlines we’ve put on our action steps. Note how the action step is converted into a corresponding description of a desired end result. the order of initial action steps. The diagram below illustrates the telescoping process with just one of the primary-level action steps.
2003. .PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Figure 15: Telescoping Applied to Creating a Vegan Restaurant Illustration concept adapted from Elkin.
another person to hire the staff. we’re particularly likely to require others’ assistance. • Generated initial action steps for each new second-level vision/reality pair. they’ll be less likely to make any decisions incompatible with that bigger vision. perhaps with the input of the manager we’ve designated. another person to renovate the building. we could hire a separate individual to oversee each primary-level action step once we have done the following: • • Translated each primary-level action step into a second-level vision or desired end result. They’ll be free to adjust their own specific set of action steps as necessary while creating the vision for which they’re responsible. Generated a description of current reality corresponding to each new second-level vision. we should be able to avoid the risk of micromanaging. If they’re clear on what we want for the final result. we might hire one person to locate a site. Note how the action steps are again telescoped out to create second-level visions. In the example above. and so on. If they understand how their piece of the puzzle fits into the overarching primary vision. and what some of the initial action steps are. . depending upon how far we need to telescope out) that support the primary vision. Each group can work individually on one of the secondary visions (or lower-level visions. For example.NAKED IDEALISM Working in groups If we wish to create large-scale positive change. Below is an example of how telescoping might be used to create a few task groups working on different components of a larger neighborhood vision. and how a corresponding description of current reality and set of action steps is generated for each of them. The details of visions and current realities are truncated for simplification. The telescoping model can be utilized to divide work on complex visions among a number of groups. how this differs from current reality.
The basic difference between these two models is that Elkin’s includes the third category of realists –Williamson and Eakes’ two types are essentially identical to Elkin’s visionaries and activists. different team members will likely favor different parts of the three-part creative framework. the activists desire to move forward and just start getting things done as soon as possible. each corresponding to a part of the creative tension framework: visionaries. A balanced approach may be gained through teams that include a mix of all three types. while others are more oriented toward concrete action steps. Recall Williamson and Eakes’ suggestion that some people are more oriented toward vision.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Figure 16: Telescoping Also Works with Groups When working in groups. This will help . It also helps to have an awareness of each team member’s characteristics of authentic self. and the realists emphasize the ways in which the current conditions must be factored into the picture. While they may experience friction at times. Elkin suggests that there are actually three types of individuals. The three types of individuals often disagree with one another on how to approach issues: the visionaries want to make sure that the picture of the desired results is vivid and complete. including their top strengths and what they most value. goals. and realists. activists. they’ll also keep one another in check–once they’re clear upon the final destination. and objectives.
.NAKED IDEALISM to ensure that they enjoy their work and maximize their contribution to achieving the vision.
For example. With such a framework in mind. we may find ourselves at points where we must choose between more than one priority or direction. is much more powerful than simply wanting.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED 16. It allows us to see how our day-to-day decisions support our larger visions. we’re choosing to support our larger visions. Which Vision First? Determining Priorities Exercising choice As we begin to work toward making our visions a reality. wishing or even affirming. At first. he writes. A second-level vision supporting this is a trip to Australia in only six months.109 Earlier we discussed prioritizing our values as a way to help in creating visions and making decisions. having a structure of “nested visions” via telescoping helps us to make choices. Intentionally choosing the visions or end results that we create. but a proactive response from a place of values. we don’t need to feel as though we’re doing things because we have to. Elkin similarly explains that exercising our freedom to choose is a core element in the creative process. As much as we crave the . this seems to complicate matters. or denying ourselves things because we have no other option. Returning to the car purchase example. but know that the expense will mean putting off our dream vacation for at least a year. The source of choice is internal and personal. Similarly. This is where it helps to have a hierarchy of what is most important to us. Rather. Covey notes that true choice is not a reactive response to external stimuli. suppose that we have a larger vision of visiting all seven continents over the next five years. suppose that we really want to purchase a new car.
Returning to the car purchase example. we can utilize what Elkin calls “foundation choices. For purposes of our discussion. some mail and phone calls. Covey’s time management matrix Vision and values hierarchies work well alongside the four-category “time management matrix” proposed by Covey. upon how highly we value the car. Not important but urgent: Interruptions.111 where he divides our time into four types of activities. When planning our daily activities. relationship building. that relate to our visions. deadline-driven projects. • • Every day. improving/developing productive capability. pleasant activities. This will require saying “no” to some of the unimportant activities– including some of those that are unimportant and urgent.NAKED IDEALISM car. planning. we can choose to pursue a less expensive car to support our larger vision. In addition to nested visions. busy work. popular activities. we might support a foundation choice to live a healthy lifestyle and support our vision for an expensive vacation by purchasing a bicycle instead of a car. keeping in mind what is most important to us is vital. reports. Thus. without it feeling like a sacrifice. we develop deeper integrity. Alternately. pressing matters. This depends. both non-urgent and urgent. some calls. we can choose to find a way to make both the car and the trip happen. recreation. recognizing new opportunities. we realize that putting off Australia also means putting off our larger vision.110 By consistently seeking opportunities to live some of our core values. we want to allocate sufficient time for actions that will yield desired end results. and meetings.” akin to choosing core values that we focus on each day. time wasters. pressing problems. Those who spend their . Important and not urgent: Prevention. mail. important means relating to our visions and priority values: • • Important and urgent: Crises. Not important and not urgent: Trivia. of course. proximate. it’s helpful to categorize incoming requests for our time so that we can create space for the important activities. In both our work and non-work lives.
Don’t forget to include the next few action steps related to your visions on your list. delegated.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED time only on unimportant activities may remain consistently busy. to use Seligman’s language from Part I. You might use different labels. place them into one of the above four categories on your “to do” list. but may rarely realize their visions. to keep them at the front of your mind. because someone wants them done now.112 The latter naturally feel more pressing. The real trick is addressing the not urgent but important items before we worry about the urgent but not important items. delayed. They may spend little time proactively planning or creating visions. As you live more authentically. Which are you currently prioritizing? Have you moved forward on the bigger picture items alongside merely putting out fires? If not. As Pausch notes in his time management lecture. or performed in a more succinct fashion?113 I’m not suggesting that you simply cast aside all requests that don’t tie directly into your own visions. different colors. they may sometimes enjoy a “pleasant life” but not a meaningful or fulfilled life. Consider those that relate to your larger visions for the community and world. Those who focus only upon urgent activities are generally very crisis-driven. you’ll connect with more people whose larger visions relate to yours. reacting to external stimuli. even if they don’t initially seem to tie into your more concrete visions. Or. or different portions of the page–whatever works best for you.” and can be eliminated. even the most important deadline-driven projects they work on are not as likely to link into their own larger visions. where do you seem to be putting most of your efforts? Which of your to-do items are nonessential “clutter. Thus. keep track of how many important versus unimportant goals you have completed. As you evaluate demands for your time. Over the course of a week. Keep in mind that we’re all in this together! . it’s relatively easy to determine the first tasks to address (important and urgent) and the first to set aside (not important and not urgent).
After you substantially improve one dimension of your life.com under Books/Naked Idealism (use the password “authentic” to access the downloadable tools link). There.” Exercise: Rate Your Satisfaction with a Life Wheel • Consider your overall level of satisfaction with each of the life dimensions listed within the blank life wheel below. Life coaches often ask clients to do this with the assistance of a “life wheel” or “coaching mandala. With the center of the wheel representing “0” (completely unsatisfied) and the outer edge “10” (perfectly satisfied). you might wish to focus on another. and how enjoyable would your trip be over long distances? Are there sizeable discrepancies between some of the dimensions? This may help you to identify where you wish to begin creating and pursuing visions first. you can revisit the life wheel and rescore yourself to track your progress and overall satisfaction. (I’ve also posted a printable version of the below wheel at idealistcoach. Note that we’re using the term dimension a little differently here than we did in our Part II discussion of the Myers-Briggs and Keirsey personality types. dimensions refer to various areas of our life. dimensions included four areas of personality.NAKED IDEALISM Assessing contentment & organizing visions via a life wheel Another way to determine which visions to prioritize is to assess our happiness across the various areas or dimensions of our life. • • • • . draw a new outer edge for each wedge. here. Use the “other” wedge for whatever life dimension you wish. or simply leave it unused. Examine the overview of your life satisfaction you’ve just created. Over time. how smoothly would your life wheel roll if it were real? How efficiently would you travel. Given its new outer edge.
PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Figure 17: Life Wheel–Blank114 (completed example on next page) .
finances. Figure 18: Life Wheel–Completed Example . and home/physical environment.NAKED IDEALISM The example of a completed life wheel below suggests a person who is the most satisfied in the areas of career/work. friends/community. This is denoted by the lines drawn nearest the outside edge. followed by intimacy/romance. They appear to be the least satisfied with health and appearance. a few connect us to the larger community or world. as illustrated by the lines drawn near the center. While many of the dimensions in the wheel pertain to our individual life and immediate community.
For example. Because of this. you can also extend the life wheel to organize some of your short.g.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED As you examine the results of your life wheel assessment. we may rely increasingly upon our jobs to meet other needs such as friendship and belonging. I devised the method below as a way for Jen and me to start comparing our visions–so this can be utilized for couples or even small teams. This can easily happen with other dimensions as well. Does this sound like anyone you know? If you find visual representations helpful. e.115 We may thus spend more time at work. but this will likely leave other dimensions out of balance. It is intended to provide an overall sense of the following in one place: • • • What you wish to create by when How your visions connect to your different life dimensions How you plan to improve or maintain your satisfaction in each of your life dimensions over time . believing that greater financial wealth will help us to obtain friendship.and long-term visions with timeframes. consider whether there are any areas where you’re attempting to utilize one domain to compensate for another. Earlier we discussed how we sometimes attempt to meet needs indirectly. as modern technology has enabled us to become more geographically disperse. many of us have become distant from our families.. and highly mobile careers may leave us little time to establish close relationships in our communities.
If doing the latter. e. If you’re doing the exercise with one or more other people so that you can compare notes. draw additional concentric “vision timeframe” circles outside the life wheel. you can go as far into the future as you wish. An easel pad. leaving several inches of writing room between each circle. For example. each of you can write on the same sheet in a different color or use separate sheets of paper.. You don’t need to fill in all the spaces. You might wish to pick only three or four life dimensions and focus primarily on those. but only over the next six months. (Recycling is good!) As illustrated below. make sure that the life dimensions and concentric time frame circles are arranged identically so you can visually compare them. Depending upon how large your sheet of paper is.g. you might wish to focus on a larger number of dimensions. sheet of paperboard. six-month.NAKED IDEALISM Exercise: Extended Life Wheel • Redraw or tape your completed life wheel from the previous exercise in the center of a much larger sheet of paper. Each additional circle represents a point further into the future. Do what works best for you. • • • • • .. you might list “my first book” as something you want to create within one year in the “career/work” dimension. one-year and two-year circles may be useful. three-month. or even a sheet of cardboard from an unfolded box will work.g. including both your shortterm and long-term visions. a romantic partner or team member. e. Or. Write brief descriptions of the visions or creations you wish to achieve into the corresponding life dimension/timeframe spaces. If you’re looking at the nearer term. Extend the spokes of the life wheel out through these additional circles. and “a painted dining room” as something you want to create within three months in the “home/physical environment” dimension. even including a 30-year circle.
PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Figure 19: Life Wheel Extended to Include Timeframes and Visions Keeping a “naked idea list” Because I love plays on words. a vision may arrive out of the blue. Occasionally. Because these moments of inspiration sometimes yield the best ideas. Start by taking off your clothes and finding a paper and pen. the concept of a “naked idea list for naked idealists” was inevitable. Just kidding! The life wheel exercises above are likely to generate many additional ideas for things you wish to create. you may wish to record the basic elements so you . at a time when you’re too busy to outline it in detail.
com. when you feel that one particular dimension of your life is in need of a boost. The possibilities are numerous. organizing.com under Books/Naked Idealism (use the password “authentic” to access the downloadable tools link). If you wish to save paper. You might even choose to sort them by life dimensions using color coding. select a vision that corresponds to it. just type into the downloadable Word template and maintain various ideas on your computer. Then. writing “completion dates” at the top so that important things don’t slip by. Another option is an organized list for your visions in a file system format. A large expanded life wheel hanging on the wall is one place for this.NAKED IDEALISM don’t forget them forever. This can assist with selecting and prioritizing which visions to pursue at a given time. There are also a number of computer-based systems that assist in visualizing. and acting upon different areas of your life. I have also posted printable templates at idealistcoach. You might choose to sort your ideas by near-term versus long-term visions. You could enter a reminder for yourself in your paper or computer-based planner. The sample template on the following page lists items that you might wish to include on your naked idea list cards. . I have described some of them on my blog at idealistcoach.
career/work. spiritual. other _________________ . how it feels to be experiencing your completed creation. etc. family.. other _______________ Completion date: ________________________ Dimension of life (circle one or more): appearance. personal dev. 20 yrs.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED “Naked Idea List” Card Name of my creation: Detailed vision: Describe what your creation looks like. 5 yrs. home/physical envt. 50 yrs.. 10 yrs. society/world. Why I want it (How does it link into purpose. and make it as “naked” as possible–i. Put it in the present tense.?): Time frame (circle one): 1-2 wks. friends/community.. fun/recreation. 6 mos. strip it of any judgment or constraints of current reality.e. 1-2 mos. health. intimacy/romance. etc. 1 yr. values. giving/serving.
.”116 In other words. as he discusses the tendency of some to have a “circle of concern” that is much greater than our current “circle of influence. we may have difficulty grasping how we’re making a difference. A basic graphic depiction of this concept is below. I’ve sometimes felt like I was taking baby steps in quicksand. we worry about much more than we can currently control. and how our everyday endeavors link into the big picture. Figure 20: Covey’s Circles of Concern and Influence From Covey (1989). Linking Personal & Community Visions When our visions involve significant community or global change.NAKED IDEALISM 17. Covey helped me to shed some light on this. In my own idealist jobs.
the following are just concerns. When expressing our concerns. also governs our level of influence. By doing so. For example.” However. we will slowly expand our circle of influence to include a greater proportion of our circle of concern. . and they may pass our opinions up the line. We can ask some of our neighbors and friends to write letters as well. we can focus our efforts upon the smaller area where we can currently make a difference.” See the difference? This also aligns well with the organizing framework of this book. which we can control through our language.” “I am an involved citizen.” “I wish I could have a greater impact on global warming.e. i. where being and doing precede having in the process of increasing our effectiveness. let’s suppose we are concerned that leaders of some of the world’s superpowers have not yet taken decisive action to curb global warming.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Even if we cannot immediately impact our entire circle of concern. if we instead say the following. the language we use can help us to advance toward our desired results. then we are implying actions that are within our control.” “I will be proactive in career planning. They communicate a desired outcome. Covey suggests that if we describe our desired results with a form of the verb have. Through taking these actions. we perceive them as existing only within our circle of concern. we could make connections that also begin to expand our circle of influence. While most of us are not in a position to change the attitudes and behaviors of these leaders directly.” “I wish I had a different job.. they also fall within our circle of influence. This may influence them. For example. within our circle of influence: • • • “I can be studious. we can still write to our Senators or Representatives to express our concern. but they do not explicity state actions that we can take to get there: • • • “If only I had a degree. Our perception. If we utilize a form of the verb be.
.e. How could I ensure that my “here and now” activities made me happy and fit into the bigger picture? Fritz’s telescoping concept later provided the additional piece of the puzzle. those within our current circle of influence).. Below we see how Fritz and Covey’s concepts overlap.NAKED IDEALISM Covey’s ideas opened my eyes further. Figure 21: Fritz and Elkin Meet Covey: Connecting Current Influence to Larger Concerns117 . It allows us to break down large and complex visions (i. those with elements still beyond our current circle of influence) into more immediate and concrete visions (i.e. but I still wanted more connection between my everyday activities and larger world issues that seemed to beg for attention–it still felt overwhelming.
we can still be assured that we are working toward them. We’re less likely to feel that we’re neglecting one important area for the sake of another. .PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Even if we initially can’t work directly on the highest-level action steps leading to our long-term visions. addressing greater areas of our circle of concern. Now we don’t have to wonder whether we are having an impact on the bigger picture. and we’re less likely to feel like we’re vacillating between our personal wants and our visions for the larger community or world. we expand our circle of influence. As we move to higher levels of visions.
which equates having to possessing.”118 Again. Possessing implies clinging or T . to comfortably occupy the same space with them.146 PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY he definition of having outlined earlier was “the state of being in relationship with other people and things in the universe. It is the ability to allow and accept things and people into our lives. this is likely a different definition than you’re accustomed to.
effectively relating to other people and things is extremely important. insists that Sally let him hold the popcorn. He discusses his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People in the context of moving from dependence to independence. Prepare for a final have-alanche of information. If we wish to create an authentic.119 Or. Following a moment of anger. much of the stadium roars in laughter at the squirrel-cheeked boy next to her on the jumbotron video screen. Sally quickly reacts.” Idealists must take additional care to interact honestly and encourage change without alienating ourselves and others. watching a baseball game. Out of pity. reaching out to grab it just inches from meeting Tommy’s nose. Tommy. “Ith aww mine! You can’t haff any!” he slobberingly blurts through the halfchewed popcorn. . which consumes energy and can make us unavailable to receive other things. “being in relationship. Sally ignores her strong urge to heel Tommy in the shin and decides to enjoy the game. Suddenly. Part IV provides some broader guidelines for living as we move forward in the process of creating. As Covey notes. While cheering for Sally. and finally to interdependence. sustainable life and world. mastery of having requires practice.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY holding onto something. famed batter John Homer hits a record-breaking homerun ball directly toward the siblings! With both her hands free. she buys her sulking brother a year’s supply of microwave popcorn. Imagine two adolescent siblings sitting side-by-side in a stadium. Whereas Part III provided a framework or toolbox useful for a range of creations. Sally later sells the ball on eBay and raises enough money to pay for her first year of college. He won’t share any of it with her. Which sibling has been more successful at having? The following sections cover several concepts related to having. very greedy. Only then will we be exercising naked idealism. As with doing. we are most effective when we “synergize” with others: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. keeping his hand thrust into the bag and stuffing his mouth full until his cheeks bulge. It’s a perfect catch! The action is over before Tommy can even get his popcornfilled hand out of the bag. Only then will we truly see and appreciate one another’s authentic selves. to return to Gawain’s words. highlighting points where idealists are particularly likely to struggle.
NAKED IDEALISM 18. creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. encourages more competitive behavior among others. fail to recognize this and become insecure about our ability to survive among the perceived competition. The opposite of an abundance mindset. as noted earlier. land. How can we maintain a positive attitude when the chasm between the “haves” and “have nots” is so incredibly wide? This was how I sometimes felt after attending one of the world’s wealthiest boarding schools and two very wealthy universities.121 we engage in behavior that is competitive. and so on) to sustain most of us quite comfortably. many of us. However. scarcity thinking. We often filter our experiences in such a way that we never see the evidence right in front of us–until we recognize and alter our mindset. Abundance Versus Scarcity Thinking This seems to be an area where those in idealist professions often have great difficulty. If one side gets more. Because there appears to be only so much to go around (limited pieces to the pie). wealthy and poor alike. everyone fights for as much as they can get. results in what economists call “fixed pie” interactions between individuals and groups. money. in turn. we are attempting to fulfill our needs indirectly. overly materialistic and destructive on many levels. then it seems to mean that .122 This.120 As a result. Often this is because. The Law of Abundance holds that there are plenty of resources in the world (food. This area has been particularly challenging for me as well. perhaps because we frequently devote our time and energy to people and causes with relatively few resources. affection. rather than “thinking win-win” as many experts advise.
If intimacy is a core value. one with a large loaf of bread. and consider one or two ways that relating to them could be mutually beneficial. or even a relative who always talks over you at family gatherings. so no one perceives any incentive to help anyone else. Sit down and spend some time making a list of them. and one with a large jar of jelly. So how can we guide ourselves into an abundant thinking mindset and keep ourselves there? One way is to constantly remind ourselves of all the things we have to be thankful for. . and will remind you of all the things that the world has already provided. The odds of creating more for everyone. Make additional efforts to revisit your list whenever you find yourself entering a scarcity mindset. Nobody gets a sandwich.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY the other side must get less. a co-worker who always seems to be vying for attention from your boss. try listing two or three people whom you currently view as competitors. different forms of giving can also yield abundanceproducing benefits. they refuse to share with one another. Out of mistrust. you could list several aspects of your friendships that you appreciate. This should help in maintaining a positive mindset. so to speak. or increasing the size of the entire pie via cooperation. Consequently. one with a large jar of peanut butter. you might consider positive aspects of your physical and mental well being. As we’ll discuss next. and revisit a few each morning or evening–even once a week can be helpful.123 Imagine three hungry children in a kitchen. neither side can benefit from additional resources or complementary strengths that the other may have to offer. Count your blessings. This could include a business competitor. If health is high on your values list. If you wish to go a step further. are thus greatly decreased.
the engaging life. a very different type of learning environment that I probably would not have discovered on my own. Without Sue’s giving. or even our mere presence. The former enhanced my writing significantly. By giving. analysis of literature.” two complementary forces that must be kept in balance. or in our dayto-day interactions with friends and family. For example. while the latter set me on a path that opened my eyes to the diversity and complexity of the world. and incorporation of creativity into our writing. Furthermore.NAKED IDEALISM 19. money. the pages before you might not exist today. she introduced me to the world of private boarding schools. Sue Dockter displayed exceptional devotion as one of my high school English teachers. Giving Gawain refers to giving and receiving as “outflow” and “inflow. She encouraged countless students to realize our full potential in our use of grammar. but various forms of wealth that we can share with others every day. as the effects may be delayed by years. Giving may consist of sharing time. It is one of the most powerful ways we have of connecting with the world. We often have no way of anticipating what impacts our giving will have. How many unknown positive impacts do you think your own acts of giving have already created? Hundreds? Thousands? Recall Seligman’s three different types of happiness–the pleasant life. of expressing and energizing our relationships. It can occur in any area of our life: at work. I’m not referring to large and expensive gifts. This book incorporates elements of both experiences. and the meaningful life–and how the deepest and most lasting . energy. in our volunteer activities. talents.
if two families are otherwise equal except for one giving $100 more than the other to charity over a specific year. Living our values and using our strengths involves putting them into the world. economic research by Arthur Brooks suggests that individuals and families who give more also grow wealthier. in turn. giving is a way to connect with others authentically while increasing our happiness. and enhances our sense of being part of a supportive larger community. they note. it’s that more giving actually results in greater wealth. Stephen Post and Jill Neimark cite a number of studies supporting the following conclusions:124 • • • Giving as a high school student predicts good physical and mental health up to 50 years later. may occur through a variety of mechanisms. the more giving family will earn $375 more on average. For one. it has a few other important benefits. Giving is more powerful than receiving in reducing mortality. I’m not suggesting that these factors should be a primary motive for engaging in charitable . Brooks cites potential mechanisms for this: charitable behavior may increase the odds that we’ll be elevated to leadership positions. may enable us to have greater impact in the world.125 It’s not just a one-way relationship where individuals who already happen to have more money also give more. enables us to forgive ourselves for our own mistakes. allows us to forget about the stressors in our own lives. into late adulthood. Giving and helping others reduces mortality in older adults. it can actually improve our health and longevity. or giving! Thus.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY fulfillment comes from recognizing and living our values and strengths. the giving effect also appears to stimulate the economy at the societal level. Giving gets even better: outside of providing personal fulfillment. and depression and suicide risk in adolescents. and it may stimulate parts of the brain associated with meeting basic needs. Giving increases our feelings of self-efficacy. Better yet. creating even greater benefits for everyone. Having more money and influence. These impacts. Could your life benefit from such changes? Focusing more specifically upon monetary giving for a moment. For example.
Courage and confrontation could include directly addressing a family member about a habit that’s harmful to them or to others. courage and confrontation. there are myriad ways to share our talents or services with others. As Tom Baker suggests in Get Involved! Making the Most of Your 20s and 30s. “If you don’t have money. this could include hugging a friend who is under great stress. We might show forgiveness by scheduling a lunch date with someone who previously wronged us. humor. This could include mentoring a young adult. loyalty. One way is through formal involvement with organizations or projects. minimizing consumption of products that cause suffering to humans or other animals. Following I provide examples for each: • • • • • Celebration might include sending a thank-you card or throwing a birthday party for someone. • • .” can be given in many ways. values. We can give respect by treating others as equals regardless of the setting. or on a much larger scale. listening. On a smaller scale. However. compassion. which Post describes as “love’s response to suffering. forgiveness. because our purpose. or by maintaining a website with jokes that bring others laughter each day. Again broadening our focus beyond monetary giving. Generativity involves nurturing others in a way that enables them to develop and grow. this is good knowledge to have if we’re in a low-paying profession and find ourselves debating whether to contribute even modest amounts to a few favorite causes. Post and Neimark explain that we can give in at least 10 possible ways: celebration. This can be something as simple as looking our waiter or waitress directly in the eye and thanking them. give your sweat equity. respect. strengths and visions should drive most of what we do.” Another way is through simply letting our authentic self show in our day-to-day interactions.NAKED IDEALISM behavior. and letting them know we’d like to forget about the past. We might provide humor by sharing an entertaining story with someone who’s not feeling well. generativity. and creativity. Compassion.
he instead recruited dorm mates to help produce a quart of fresh hand-squeezed juice! I don’t know if it took their relationship to the next level. there are plenty of opportunities for us to give. Post further explains that for each type of giving. Even though Jim is retired from paid work. we can give to four possible groups at increasing levels of breadth: family. or by baking a batch of cookies for a neighbor. Many people benefit: the brothers appreciate their creation and meet many interesting people. I add a type of giving that can be combined with any of the above: taking it to the next level. We can give creativity by sharing a painting or a work of music with the world. creativity and giving. some creativity. Listening could simply entail providing our undivided attention for five minutes as a stranger on the bus tells us about their bad day. acquired an old carillon–a musical instrument utilizing a keyboard to play bells. A vision. When she asked him to run to the store to buy her a carton of orange juice. . This is surprising someone by giving just a bit more than they expected. and the charitable organizations and their customers benefit as well. friends. Today a carillon tower over 70 feet high stands on the property. or all of humanity. even when doing so may not make us popular. He became excited by the vision of having such an instrument in his yard. and illustrates the energy that this combination can generate. who lives on a plot of land providing a reasonable sound buffer from neighbors. His brother. and Jim is using his technical skills to add computer automated playing. The brothers host benefit concerts each year. and a little desire to give can go a very long way. but we all had a lot of fun. I recently enjoyed an inspiring conversation with someone who blends vision. In short. community. often housed in a tower.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY • • • We can give loyalty by remaining committed to a cause that’s important to us. he spends significant time volunteering with the Red Cross and helping his brother with an ongoing project. The possibilities for sharing our energy with the world are quite diverse. I suggest a fifth group that includes all living things. and also wished to benefit charitable causes. with attendees sometimes flying in from other states. A friend in boarding school had a crush on a girl in the dorm next door. the attendees enjoy hearing the music and knowing that they’re helping a worthy cause.
we must also know how to ask and receive. when working on larger visions and causes. private and nonprofit sector jobs. our fear of asking may extend into various other areas of our lives.127 These are just the tip of the iceberg. given that we often find ourselves in settings where the focus is on “give. As previously noted. Representing a range of public. You probably know at least one person who is fiercely . He highlighted the value of not being afraid to ask for things. give. Asking & Receiving Alongside giving.. He explained that in most cases..” They often come through if you’re specific about what you need to pursue a vision. How can we focus on tasks that optimize use of our own strengths if we’re trying to do everything else as well? Baker offers similar advice: “It is essential to ask constantly. citing several examples of resources he had obtained through simple requests.g. give.”126 We all know the stereotype that men don’t like to ask for directions when they’re driving.NAKED IDEALISM 20. This included several interns who assisted with his endeavors tremendously. e. I’ve certainly been guilty of this! Linda Babcock has found that women are often more hesitant when asking for money.if you want to move forward in making your dreams come true.. Many idealists may find this difficult to grasp. via salary increases. As a final question. they discussed how they had leveraged their degrees following graduate school. a facilitator asked each of them to share “one most important piece of advice. we need the help and support of others.” One panelist worked in a particularly challenging and resource-strapped school system environment. “people like to be asked for things.” I once attended a stimulating panel discussion among alumni from my public policy and management program.
this may become less of a concern because we recognize that it’s really not about us anyway. Ellis offers a few guidelines:128 • • Include a timeline in your request. It’s about something larger and more important. and question their validity. Politely seek clarification for wishy-washy responses such as a “maybe.e. they enable others to respond to our requests more authentically and easily. • • • As Ellis notes.. do we perceive it as a sign of weakness. “I’d enjoy it if you came over to my place” rather than “I thought you might want to come over to my place. This could be a simple “yes” or “no” to your original request. if anything. or a suggested modification of the task or timeline that you could accept or decline–but in the end. So what self-growth steps can we take if we’re not comfortable with asking and receiving? We might take a look at our core beliefs in this area. but you might want to do something different. We’re not being selfish at all. e. sometimes including myself. Are we shy about asking for “favors” for fear that we’re not really worthy. or that we’re being too selfish? If we remain focused on our vision and purpose. What.g. and they make . of being less capable? As we consider people we know who are very capable and successful in the world. Thank them.. even while they’re usually insistent upon helping others. saying. that we’ll be unable to return the favors. both parties understand what is agreed upon. voicing appreciation for their consideration no matter what their decision is. i. a date or time by which you need a response or action. I know several.” Use a requesting rather than a demanding tone. State your request cleanly and clearly. because we’re probably not the only ones who will benefit.” Clear communication is key. do we believe that accepting help says about us? For example.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY independent and takes pride in going it alone. It is also important to be aware of how we ask for things. do we get the sense that they never ask for help? Did they become successful alone? Another way to increase our comfort with receiving is to follow earlier suggestions on separating our ego from our desired results. these practices do not merely serve our self-interests.
I heard the barks of a much smaller dog I had passed slightly earlier. let’s consider what may happen when we remain closed to receiving anything from others. I shouted loudly and angrily at her. not burdening them. whose guardian was using a leash–the larger dog was likely upsetting both of them as well. How did it make you feel? Probably pretty good. or felt slightly rejected or offended. How did that make you feel? Probably a little frustrated. I had probably simply deepened someone’s stereotype of “those annoying joggers. For example. many people allow their canine companions to run freely along the trails. Engrossed in a conversation on her cell phone. I realized that I probably hadn’t inspired any positive change at all. they may feel rejected as well. After calming my mind. we fear that we’re placing a burden upon them. This is particularly the case in light of the earlier evidence that giving may even benefit physical health.NAKED IDEALISM others more comfortable asking for things in return. right? Perhaps you even took it a little personally. consider the last time you helped someone in a way you know made a difference.” . Despite the presence of two off-leash dog areas. right? Going back to the statement of the school system panelist. However. This can occur even when others attempt to give us little things. like a compliment or a thank you. it is not surprising that many people ignore the signs warning of a $300 fine for unleashed dogs. “Please take care of your friend and use a leash!” Moments later. people often like to be asked for things. the guardian seemed oblivious. I became upset when a large unleashed dog followed me and nipped at my right leg after I jogged past their guardian in the opposite direction. we may actually be doing them a favor. When we refuse offers of assistance from others. Taking this a step further. I just shook my head and continued the jog toward home. Think about a time you really wanted to help someone or give them something. Considering what we know about punishment being much less effective than positive reinforcement. Often. Effective communication is a vital component of naked idealism. By allowing ourselves to receive from others. We might address our hesitation to ask and receive by examining our assumptions of how others feel when we ask for something. I was recently jogging through a Pittsburgh park that is also very popular with dog walkers. but they didn’t ask you or refused to accept anything from you.
and employ strategies like warmly thanking people who are using leashes. It may just be one of my quirks. I reminded myself of concepts discussed elsewhere in this book. I often feel uncomfortable in restrooms where an unofficial attendant is turning the water on and off for everyone. The lesson here is that it’s often best just to accept small gifts like expressions of gratitude.” However. she had invalidated my expression of gratitude whether she intended to or not. of course. from an eagerly outstretched hand.” I felt the smile automatically disappear from my face. I’ll often go to an unused sink or just let my hands air dry–especially if they’re being wasteful with the paper towels and have emptied the dispenser to leave no other option. and quickly turned to keep running. as I was passing a woman with two dogs near the park’s exit. For a few moments my mind had returned to problem-solving mode. I fear the day that I stand up from a toilet to retrieve a square of T. One day. as this can make a large impact upon our relationships with others. however.129 Although I admire the attendants’ entrepreneurial nature and empathize with their likely economic plight. “Looks like I’m out of change. I was not at all prepared for her prompt response: “Don’t thank me. this new strategy has made the experience more enjoyable for me.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY Thus. I don’t use them that often. and working the paper towel dispenser. exceptions to when we’ll want to receive from people. I turned to her with a smile and delivered my usual. while searching my pockets for a tip. “Thank you for using leashes. Do you by chance take Visa?” . such as keeping my ego separate from desired results. as I’ve gotten some smiles and remarks of gratitude from others. Did she intend to express to me that she had no intentions of using leashes regularly and didn’t care about my opinion. Take. and delivered what felt like a slap in the face.P. “She’s only one out of hundreds of people who use this park. but in this particular setting it starts to feel a little bit like an invasion of my freedom and privacy. I decided to attempt a new strategy: positively envision a safe and pleasant park for everyone who uses it. one of my little pet peeves that friends find humorous.” Nonetheless. or was it simply that she felt guilty and unable to accept my gratitude? It’s impossible to say. There are. Overall. “So what!” I thought to myself. expecting tips. entertaining less positive means of resolving the leash issue. I really appreciate it. for example.
I’ve also heard many individuals in the “helping professions” explain that they are often much more comfortable advocating for their clients than they are for themselves–e. As mentioned earlier. we may come to resent that our own lives are not as we wish them to be. but they don’t advocate for their own raises and they don’t take efforts to improve their health and stress levels. they would see that improving . Lighthearted gatherings recharge me and provide me with additional energy.g. “Yes. and to take the world very seriously. Recall the earlier quote from Ellis on how it is much easier to give from ourselves when our own cup is full. which in turn may make it difficult to justify our endeavors to improve others’ lives. Although my first instinct was to reply. idealists sometimes have the tendency to martyr ourselves. some having spent years in idealist positions. felt additional hope and energy after giving themselves permission to engage in hobbies alongside their difficult jobs. What if they viewed their own self-care as part of a larger picture? What if their vision of a healthy and capable self were nested within a larger vision of a successful career in advocating for others? If they viewed it this way. medical assistance. Even if they didn’t seem to be saving the world with their hobby. we should spend more time talking about such things.” something kept me from speaking. I felt that I already spend significant time considering serious issues in the world. As another example. If we don’t allow ourselves some fun and enjoyment. I realized why I had remained silent. they do an excellent job at helping their clients secure financial assistance. a friend at a vegan gathering observed that our group spends much more time simply talking about the joys of eating delicious food than we do about the issues and philosophies underlying our lifestyles. which has at least two benefits: I’m better able to focus on the “serious” side of things when I need to. Thinking about his point on the way home. it still enabled them to give more of themselves.NAKED IDEALISM Giving to ourselves Discussions on giving and receiving would not be complete without a few words on giving to ourselves. and I’m setting an example that others may want to follow–few people want to live a life that appears to be overly serious and largely devoid of fun. and other resources.. A few of my students. and that I simply enjoy relaxing in the company of others who share some common values. In my graduate self-development course I witnessed several examples of this.
Did your happiness seem to have a contagious effect upon others? Did coworkers and customers seem somewhat more pleasant to be around beforehand and afterwards? Were you a little more productive? (If your workplace encourages martyrdom to the point where nobody feels comfortable talking about fun.e. we’re not in the “omnipresent observer” seat as we often are when viewing movies. . and the board struggles to raise additional salary funds. they owe it to their clients to ask for what they need. or intelligently discuss–components far more powerful than a plane flying overhead. Think about the last time you took a vacation. The following is based upon an entry from my Habitat for Humanity bicycle trip journal. we have only a tiny glimpse of a much larger reality. you might consider a permanent vacation. many people would be better off. The plot begins when a soda bottle falls from the sky.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY their own well-being can also benefit their clients–i. like the villagers in the film. If these leaders had been better about asking and giving to themselves. Perplexed by the unfamiliar object. astounding residents of a remote village without modern technology.e. Real-life lesson: Bottles from Heaven You may recall the 1980 comedy The Gods Must Be Crazy. because the current ones never asked for a higher salary. Asking and receiving can sometimes connect in ways that challenge our perception of reality.. the organizations’ clients and other stakeholders suffer. that many nonprofits have difficulty attracting new talent when their leaders retire. In real life..) Finally. however. the villagers believe it to be of divine origin. There may be components of the universe that we can’t yet perceive. comprehend. having witnessed the previous scene in which an airplane pilot tossed it out the window. i. recall an issue we discussed earlier. The viewer gets a laugh. As the most qualified candidates seek higher-paying pastures elsewhere. Instead.
I noted a slowly growing object in the distance over Kara’s shoulder. Cheryl. Cheryl. As I snapped the photo. Jack and I were riding particularly leisurely that day. I saw the object drop to the ground and bounce slightly. as the Colorado landscape lent itself well to beautiful photographs. “Water!” shouted Jack. just behind us. I noticed something very peculiar. and with significant distance between towns. He had apparently seen the engineer dangling the six-pack of plastic bottles. this had never posed an issue during our previous weeks of riding.. I looked down and noted that she indeed didn’t have much water left. population 800 The desert road was scorching hot. and Jack and I were growing tired. or exhaustion. sounding a “toot-toooooot” greeting. On a hot day like this. Was it. Pedaling slightly ahead so we could stop to snap pictures without delaying Cheryl too much. As we chatted. She was serving as the “sweep” for that day. tiredly groaned. “After I get this picture. and awaited the train’s approach.” As the train chugged nearer and passed. a slow morning pace meant more distance remaining after the sun had already heated the desert for the day.. 1997 (80-mile day) Destination: Eads.NAKED IDEALISM Dave’s Cycling Journal July 5. took my camera out of its protective plastic bag. The engineer appeared to be holding something out of the window. we’ll be all set. running toward the tracks. She had paused for a granola bar break. having just pulled up behind us. giving us enough water to enjoy a leisurely ride to the next town. we caught up with Kara. Unfortunately. It was a train–a great opportunity to add to the small collection of engine snapshots I had accumulated over the last few weeks! I hopped off my bike. “Could you guys please not take too long? I really need to fill up my water bottles in the next town. accident. Five of the six survived the impact. and we stopped to talk.” She then began to dial her cell phone. . and had signaled him to drop them. riding at the rear of the pack with a cell phone to ensure that no one became stranded alone due to a flat tire. Colorado. and neither did the rest of us. Given the number of water bottles we each carried. didn’t look any more energetic than we did. it certainly could be a problem.
. You may have had many similar experiences or perhaps none at all. to whom? This is but one example from my life. we later asked Cheryl whether she had communicated her request for water via the cell phone–and if so. Are they merely coincidences? Each of us has our own set of answers to this. and it seemed to manifest itself extraordinarily rapidly–in ways not explainable through traditional thinking. I have experienced a reasonable number of “coincidences” where I or someone around me expressed a want or need for something.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY Jokingly.
my experiences have led me to view “isms” as one of the most important part of our psyches to understand. chances are that you generally act in a manner that promotes equality. some of my classmates heckled those of us who didn’t pay cash because we were eligible for the free lunch program.. or behavior seen as seeking to minimize offense to racial. Transcending Our “PC Shoulds” What are “PC shoulds”? It’s time to grab the carrot by its top and dig into some tough topics. Wikipedia describes PC or politically correct behavior as “language. or do some of them still feel like “shoulds”? This is probably one of the most challenging parts of relating in a naked fashion. If you’re reading this book.” PC often denotes someone acting in a manner that appears egalitarian only because they feel they have to. and you are probably aware of many of your own stereotypes. wellintentioned idealists can allow our own attitudes surrounding the “isms”–racism. have we fully and truly adopted values relating to equality. classism. or other identity groups. and so on–to stand in our way.” Since a young age..” Ironically. In Part II we talked about the need to look past our “shoulds. and deliberately. policies. Perhaps we’ve all had experiences that have given us opportunities (if we were paying attention) to get in touch with our “isms. However. one of my most horrific learning experiences was becoming caught in the middle of a small-scale racial riot–more on that shortly. sexism. speciesism. in elementary school I was often teased because I had a particularly high voice for a male and spoke very softly. In the school lunch line. but may not realize it or wish to admit it. but one of the most important. ideas. slowly.the term ‘political correctness’ is used almost exclusively in a pejorative sense. During adolescence. cultural. For example. they sometimes resent that they have to act in this manner. Because they still harbor prejudice toward a particular group or groups. . not because they necessarily want to.NAKED IDEALISM 21.
it is difficult to pursue common visions of a world where everyone enjoys a healthy.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY The pain of these experiences surrounding gender. if one of our ancestors died shortly after eating a plant with purple leaves and orange polka dots. my polite exterior was not always accompanied by a prejudice-free interior. If we are supportive of causes advancing equality. class. We place larger issues on the back burner. Why we need to understand our “PC shoulds” Being brutally honest with ourselves about where we stand with respect to stereotyping. their family members may have learned to avoid eating any plant with purple leaves and orange polka dots–even if many of these similar- . However. • • Many psychologists argue that stereotyping is a natural function of the human mind. Getting honest with ourselves in this area may help us to become more honest with our other values. and addressing any underlying prejudices is vital for accepting and relating to others. sustainable. and the “why” behind the causes we choose to pursue. and race taught me empathy and the importance of behaving kindly toward others. a racially diverse group with a common vision of an economically just world can easily divide itself (or can be divided by others) if its members are not fully in touch with their individual attitudes regarding race. social justice.” we will not pursue visions with the same energy. and fulfilling life. we compete. and the “isms”–not just in our visible actions. for several reasons: • • Recognizing our “PC shoulds” is an important step in accepting ourselves. We may eventually become resentful and have difficulty sustaining our behavior. For example. It was occasionally a bit of a facade. but in our thoughts and non-public actions–is extremely important if we wish to make a positive difference in the world. but are simply “acting on the surface. When we are divided into segments. as there was still some frustration pent up inside. an innate mechanism for simplifying and classifying otherwise overwhelming amounts of information. For example. It may serve a survival function in some settings. Rather than serving as resources to one another. and we sometimes resent one another’s success in the world. you might say that much of my behavior was politically correct.
The violence rapidly escalated. our natural tendency to overgeneralize can be taken overboard. How can we maximize our progress if we haven’t yet clearly defined what we’re working toward. Due to their stereotyping. . As you read through it. classes. It took a few years for me to fully assimilate the experience. We may energetically set out to do good in the world. However. This leads to inauthenticity and inability to sustain our good behavior because we don’t yet fully believe in what we’re doing. we’re simply looking to alleviate the negative symptoms of our internal conflict. observe your own reactions. especially if we fail to recognize that this tendency exists. their chances of dying in a similar fashion would thus decrease. they would also miss out on many dining opportunities. I recently discovered an old song that I composed and recorded a few months after the incident. and to overcome the anger and confusion it stirred up. because we’re not truly striving to achieve a vision for a just world–instead. and nations. we act from superficial values that we haven’t yet chosen to adopt. but take a very long time to become honest with ourselves about where we stand. religions. We will likely feel disappointed in the long run. This is particularly the case when we are surrounded by daily images and messages that emphasize conflict and divisions among races. Around age 17. Instead.NAKED IDEALISM looking plants were quite healthy and delicious. In other words. As the large crowd exited at closing time. triggering our prejudices. I was visiting Ohio for my first December holiday break from boarding school. Some of its ideas are still pertinent today. I had a new understanding of the rapid manner in which people can shift into irrational. and two friends and I had just spent the evening at a popular dance club. and by the end of the evening. and if we haven’t yet honestly addressed our underlying attitudes that may interfere with success? Real-life lesson: Surviving a race riot I now share an event that illustrates the extent to which dangerous attitudes may bubble just below our surface. potentially lethal behavior. a fight broke out between two men for an unknown reason. genders.
before it’s too late! Out of nowhere a gangsta big and tall Socked MCB. I was hangin’ out late the other night With my posse MCB and MC Dwight. “Kill the whites!” “Kill the blacks!” people said. . not very far. I was right behind. We’ve got to stop right now. MCB shouted. We knew we had to leave or we would be dead. my heart started to pound. “Go get him. not six feet under! Never saw a family with so much hate. Right away the whole mob began to run past us As I searched left and right for MCB’s glasses. made his glasses fall. Dwight!” My homeboy was off like a beam of light. the trouble started. We were chillin’ at the Bull and when we came out There was a big ugly mob and we heard some shouts! We glanced around fast: “What’s goin’ down?” A hat flew up. Chorus We are fighting brother to brother I want to sleep in bed.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY Lyrics for “Brother to Brother” Copyright © 1992 Dave Wheitner Stop just a moment I got somethin’ to say About a real big problem in the world today. He was screamin’ real loud and there was blood on his face. We wanted no trouble before we departed. MCB and Dwight took off for the car. A White boy took off kickin’ at his fastest pace. But MCB got bum rushed.
But we often get so caught up in how we’re feelin’. “Get out of our way!” And I swirled around to see a red TA. But they all sat in their cars. The types of role models our society needs Are those who see the wrong in violent deeds. I jumped to the side. There were three cop cruisers there that night. As his bumper hit my leg. Luckily my friend was quickly saved By a couple of brothers who were really brave! They could see the world in a different light. “What’s so great about violence?” Next time you think you wanna go knuckle knockin’. Gang and racial violence just ain’t right. They walked right in and pulled my buddy out. Realizin’ what life’s really all about. The driver was trembling. . watchin’ the fight. Then I looked down the parking lot And saw my buddy Dwight. So spend a few moments in silence. he was caught In the middle of a circle of thirty Gangstas who were fightin’ real dirty. eyes open wide. A couple of friends with whom we grew up. What they just did made the rest shut up. And think. We don’t stop and think about how we’re dealin’.NAKED IDEALISM Somebody screamed. Stop and make sure it ain’t nonsense you’re talkin’.
and it’s important to remember that nobody is perfect. Dwight did not foresee what he was getting himself into when he chased after the men who had just hit his friend. Homophobic people could have surrounded a gay or lesbian person. Adolescents could have watched as a mischievous friend tortured a stray cat. or sexist and aggressive men could have surrounded a woman. The conflicting categories of groups or “isms” involved in such a scenario can easily be interchanged. I did not directly communicate my feelings to my grandmother. or otherwise? We need to be aware of what bubbles just beneath our surface. I knew that she had grown up during a time when messages of .S. In school I was briefly romantically involved with a few women who were not from the U. be it race. class. she’s not.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY As you read through the above account. or an arena of thousands could have cheered as a matador slaughtered a bull. we must also realize that forces far less obvious than a fight outside a club often trigger divisiveness. Upon asking about one of them. It doesn’t matter if we’re 17 or 60 years old. Grandma. The racial divisions in the voting patterns for the 2008 U.” Although hurt by her question. Democratic primary elections may have been an example of this. Efforts to create social change can trigger stress and insecurity. The onus may be upon us to maintain calmness when others are incensed. especially when we’re in a stressful situation. Even after participating in at least five courses dealing with different aspects of stereotyping and prejudice. we’re raised in a society with many biased messages. isn’t she?” “No. After all. gender. I still need to maintain awareness of my own “history of thinking. did it make you angry or even slightly uncomfortable? Did it temporarily heighten your awareness of any groups with which you self-identify.130 Confessions of imperfection These “isms” ranging from speciesism to sexism are not easy issues to consider. If we actively strive for a better world. sometimes secretly patting myself on the back for my good behavior. ranging from sexism to speciesism. I’ll share a few examples from my own life. my grandmother’s first question was. I prided myself upon being appreciative of diversity. as many may fear that their group will lose something in the process.” During most of my late high school through graduate school years. though. “She’s still White.S.
but the vast majority of individuals who helped with the event were very cooperative and great fun to work with. The local media provided very creative coverage. Additionally. One summer I was contacted by two women bicycling across the continent to raise awareness about legal inequalities facing same-sex couples: the “Rainbow Grannies. As I found their cause.) However.” They discovered I had been involved with other cycling events and social causes. throughout the planning process. Although I later learned that some of the peculiar planning dynamics may have stemmed from existing frictions among organizations (another illustration of conflict among idealist groups). I quietly gave myself little “pats on the back” several more times. Pennsylvania. My first thoughts were less than noble: “Well. even running a story entitled “Lesbian Grandmothers from Mars. and wanted to know if I’d organize an educational event in Pittsburgh. I continually sensed that I was perceived as an outsider. commitment.’ then they can fight their own battle!” “Why should I waste my time if people don’t even care . I finally admitted to myself that my altruistic actions involving minority groups were not yet entirely altruistic. more pertinent to this discussion was my internal reaction immediately following the event. Several years later. perhaps with a degree of suspicion. and when I served on the diversity committee for one of my graduate programs. We ended up with a successful. I didn’t want to upset her further.” (The Grannies are from Mars. A few of the organizations from whom I had expected the greatest levels of participation seemed to show relatively little interest. such as when I worked as a personal aide for a student with a physical disability. and energy admirable. Although a desire to prove my moral superiority was never the primary motivational factor. However. the expressions of gratitude I received from some of the others seemed below the level I had expected. Over the following years. it was still present among my thoughts. It was a great deal of effort. I agreed. while the Rainbow Grannies were extremely appreciative. and this is now also the title of a documentary film about their journey and their mission. reasonably well attended turnout. I later secretly viewed my interest in women of other races as evidence that I had morally advanced beyond my family in some way. if they’re not going to be more appreciative of the help of an ‘outsider.NAKED IDEALISM prejudice were even stronger.
. It was painful to look at myself honestly and see how I had used them to feel better about myself. This led to additional prejudiced thoughts. or we may overidentify with a minority group while rejecting our own group.131 This includes acting out of guilt to help underprivileged or minority groups. at the very least. We may adopt a “paternalistic protector” role. but these both sounded a bit like me. playing the hero who shields minority groups from the evils of the world. I actually felt somewhat tired of having to honor “gay pride” and display sensitivity to other minority issues. while feeling like I had to squelch my own identity and be “super PC” just to make up for belonging to the so-called power class. I had been afforded some privileges in life.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY about causes that impact their own group?” I hadn’t received the pats on the back for being a good citizen that I had expected. often implied in this is an expectation that others owe us something–acceptance. Attempting to do so may send a message of inauthenticity. and I may not have hurt them directly in any way. Does this sound like anyone you know? Moving forward We may create issues for ourselves by believing that we’re someone special and doing society a favor via our extra efforts to assist other groups. To say the least. In graduate counselor training I encountered the work of Derald Wing Sue and David Sue. but outside of that I didn’t recognize any of the privileges of being a Caucasian heterosexual male–I had grown up in a low-income environment. such as attending some of the world’s wealthiest schools. as evidence that I really was the good person I professed myself to be. It made me wonder how many other people do good in the world with a true desire to help others. While we may not realize it at first. Sure. I hated to admit it. who explain that “White Liberal Syndrome” is a common part of Caucasian racial identity development. and I didn’t believe I had received any special status because of that. I had much to learn. and thus can never fully be one of them. without yet being totally honest about our own prejudices. we inevitably realize that we can never fully understand the conditions or experiences of another group. I was not being fully authentic. Even if it was without their knowledge. I still had some issues to work through. but with similar ulterior motives attached. there was still a small part of me that secretly saw them as tokens. Below the surface. Eventually. While I cared for those I was trying to help. This isn’t naked idealism.
and we will all experience different reactions from others as we attempt to do so. In the end. Once prejudiced attitudes exist. Doug. gender. you might consider acknowledging it and getting it out in the open in a safe setting. we may have difficulty accepting those of others. The truth is that working for a more egalitarian world is simply our duty.. feels ashamed to admit any pride of his own heritage. It is not just “their issue.” If we’re not self-observant. e. Over time.” It is everyone’s issue. a Caucasian male who strives to act fairly toward individuals of other races. This may initiate further dialogue. In other words. they can quickly shift from one target to another. don’t expect any type of pat on the back for being honest. from those of a certain economic class to those of a certain religion. We once had a bumper sticker that read. you’ll be more authentic. Although it’s possible you might receive some praise. . as we strive for naked idealism. He believes he must squelch his own identity. because openly expressing it may be seen as politically incorrect. If you still have significant work to do in this area. Be politically correct and accepting of others. Talking with people you already know and trust or participating in professionally facilitated meetings are two possibilities. We cannot expect anything in return. If individuals who belong to one of your “isms” groups are present. For example. “When one is oppressed. In fact. sexual orientation.g. That’s part of the process. you may also get some strong feedback that initially makes you very uncomfortable. One can express pride in their own culture without suggesting that it is superior to another. until we are secure with our own identity. we may wonder why we still encounter suspicion on occasion. Doug becomes resentful when others talk of concepts such as “Black Pride” or a “Latino celebration. we may engage in distorted either/or thinking regarding our own identity. we may feel as though we need to choose one and only one of the following: • • Be proud of our own identity (race. If we’ve committed significant time and energy to promoting equality. we can learn to peacefully coincide with a deeper appreciation of differences. all are oppressed.). Just keep in mind that you’re certainly not alone.” The truth is that nobody is asking him to squelch his pride of his own identity–all anyone is asking is for him to be more accepting of others. etc.NAKED IDEALISM However.
.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY Exercise: Identify Your “PC Shoulds” This is intended to provide a little humor following a few serious chapters–but in a way that detects a little truth.. ___ Someone with multiple minority statuses (e. I hide several “nongreen” items that I use regularly. I make efforts to see that my eco-friendly cleansers and other products are prominently displayed. ___ When friends visit my house. I shop between 11 PM and 6 AM so I’m less likely to be spotted by someone I know. ___ The one person in my family with a physical disability is the one I talk about the most. regardless of whether we have anything in common. you may not yet be acting with integrity–you may still be more concerned about appearing PC.” 8. ___ I still shop regularly at department stores that I routinely bash in “socially responsible” conversation. “Afri–aaaacho! Ahem. If you check more than 2 or 3 items. 7. 6. I make sure that any labels on the green products face outward for all to see. ___ When I do #3. 5. 4. and remember that we’re all human! 1. Read through the list below. ___ I order vegetarian or vegan dishes when I’m out with vegetarian or vegan friends. but at home I eat steak for breakfast and have even devised a way to create “salad” without any plant-derived products. 2. ___ I pause for more than two seconds when trying to decide what term to use to refer to someone in a minority group. and check off the items that pertain to you. For the same reason. I then slur my speech or cough while saying it so others can’t tell what I said. 3. even though I feel guilty for supporting 24-hour supercenters. ___ When I do #1. The story I always tell involves me helping them. Good luck. even though I haven’t seen them in 10 years. This is not to educate them. but to show how cool I am.g. an African-American vegan Jewish lesbian Libertarian with quadriplegia) gets an automatic invitation to my party.
NAKED IDEALISM 9. The very next day I returned to see it a second time alone and laughed my hind end off. 12. ___ While viewing the film Borat with several friends. 10. ___ At my parties. non-hybrid SUV. I struggled to remain straight-faced throughout the film. ___ I have a “stop global warming” bumper sticker on my large. and lied about why I really left my coat in the car. ___ I hide my Christmas tree in the basement and put out a Menorah when Jewish friends come over. not only because we desire approval. As we convert our “PC shoulds” to a deeper awareness and honesty. . ___ I’m so busy alternating between “he/she” and “she/he” when I’m speaking to someone that I miss the main points of the conversation. or vice-versa with other religious symbols. I always ask my one friend of a different race to help by answering the door. ___ I was very cold when I arrived at my vegetarian friend’s party. I want them to be the first one guests see when they arrive. This helps to ensure that we’re engaging in actions because we really want to. we can further increase our integrity across multiple life areas. 13. 11. 14.
without judgment. However. The next question is. Think of someone you know who doesn’t quite live up to your ideals. This included exploring unaddressed prejudices we may still hold toward people with noticeable differences. Rather than attempting to control the situation. This Eastern religious philosophy includes accepting the reality around us and loosening our desire to control people and other aspects of our existence. he simply . We may distance ourselves from them. even if they don’t live up to our ideals. Relating to Others Despite Differences The previous chapter emphasized self-honesty regarding our reasons for doing good in the world. we now focus primarily upon changeable aspects of people. If we accept the simple fact that others rarely embody all of our ideals. this may be difficult. Dyer outlined how he had dealt with his grandchildren when they were arguing. We see them as completely equal. and patiently work from this point. how can we relate to people who are different from us in a manner that respects them and advances our visions for a better life and world? Rather than permanent characteristics such as race. and do not secretly look down upon them in any way. because no two people agree on everything.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY 22. I’m far from perfect at this myself! Just as judgment can hinder our perception of current reality. such as attitudes and opinions. In one example. the possibilities open up. What’s one small thing you can do over the next week to express greater acceptance of them? Wayne Dyer has recently written and spoken about taking a more Taoist approach to life. If we strongly disagree with someone on a topic we’re very passionate about. this often requires viewing a person’s identity as a human being (which we strive to accept) as separate from their behavior and attitudes (some of which we may merely tolerate). We end up just tolerating the person as a whole rather than accepting them at all. True and full acceptance of another human being means being okay with every characteristic of them. it can also stand in our way of relating to the world.
and distanced myself from many of my peers as I did this. While I grew up in a low-income environment. This can lead to self-isolation and exclusion of people that we may actually have a great deal in common with. who doesn’t seem to match your ideals. During several years in the non-profit. governmental.NAKED IDEALISM let them know that he was nearby. It is basically this: “I choose to prioritize a larger purpose and the well-being of the world over profit. we too can inspire change. and this is but one example of how it can rear its ugly head.133 .132 Perhaps as we develop a more caring and accepting presence. I adopted an HTT attitude as a shortcut to bolstering my own identity. This is despite the fact that I actually preferred some aspects of the corporate setting. For a time. Only at class reunions years later. Avoiding the “holier than thou” idealist label If we have not resolved our own major insecurities or our need to appear perfect. when I was more fully present.” Are you familiar with this attitude? It seems to be quite common. and many people in the private sector don’t. and academic sectors. and actively reject them. caring. and accepting presence helped them to change. and expressed confidence that they would work things out on their own. We may look down upon them when they don’t meet our standards. Consider the person you brought to mind above. they resolved their differences. In a relatively short period of time. How do you believe both of your lives may improve after you express greater acceptance of them? I’ve been guilty of “holier than thou” (HTT) attitudes in my own life. we may inadvertently set impossibly high standards for others. many of my boarding school and college classmates came from families with exceptional financial wealth and social status. His unobtrusive. so I’m better than them. I prided myself for having endured more struggles to earn my way into my new environments. I developed another HTT attitude that I still wrestle with. did I truly begin to learn how interesting and compassionate many of my former classmates are.
for our thoughts and actions. our own behavior) by creating a conflict with an external source. it creates incompatible thoughts or “cognitive dissonance” that makes us uncomfortable. Inside. offers one answer. Why is this? The Arbinger Institute’s model.. others may still perceive us as an “annoying dogooder” who reminds them of their faults.e. In other words. An example would be. As we’ll discuss shortly. originally designed to explain the source of conflict between individuals. “I’m a kind person and I just behaved in a very hostile manner toward someone else. we may pride ourselves for our superior understanding. their newfound enlightenment would benefit both them and the world in amazing ways. something that contradicts our values surrounding social/ecological responsibility or otherwise). groups. We then blame that external source. knowing we are holier than they. . idealists frequently find ourselves speaking with someone we wish would “just see it my way. which frustrates us–especially if it’s someone we know and love.g. others may have no desire to hear our facts or opinions.. Making things particularly difficult for aspiring naked idealists is that even after we’ve overcome our HTT attitudes. If only others could comprehend our point of view. However..” There are a few ways we may try to escape this discomfort: • • We can change our thinking and behavior to correct our wrongdoings. and global warming? Why can’t they grasp the links between factory farming and water pollution? Why don’t they understand that racial disparity still exists? The list goes on and on. they probably won’t listen unless we’re able to step down from our own pedestal and listen to them.134 When we choose to do something that we know in our hearts to be wrong (e.g. health.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY As people who often wish the world were very different. even if we aren’t looking down on others. e. and even nations. or could learn the same information we had obtained.” Why can’t they see the complexities of the world that are so evident to me? Why don’t they understand the connections between veganism. usually a person or group of people. We can attempt to deny and mask the true cause of the dissonance (i. they may imagine that we are. by apologizing.
In other words. justifying their stereotype. .136 The mere presence of someone who refrains from eating flesh can trigger guilt and anxiety in others if they have the slightest sense that their own behavior may be harmful and unhealthy. We are more likely to react defensively ourselves. The greatest disservice we can do. Rather than connecting with another human being whose behaviors and actions resonate with something inside of us. After all. it’s easier to label us (the silent messenger) as being an “annoyance. and to resolve internal conflict without blaming others. These same people are most likely to point out the ways in which our own actions have both a positive and negative impact. we’re far from perfect. is act from a place that sounds “holier than thou. it becomes very difficult to establish open and meaningful communication. we actively repel them.” Debating why our position is better than someone else’s in such a situation only creates further conflict. it’s important to be comfortable with discomfort.” After all. Carol Adams uses a similar explanation as to why vegetarians and vegans often inadvertently trigger conflict–even when we haven’t said a single word. If we label other people. We shoot the messenger! For example. Instead of attracting others with values that match our authentic self. whatever our social cause. we close ourselves off from hearing anything more that that individual has to say. So if we want to positively influence the world. This may lead us away from pursuing visions aligned with who we truly are.135 The recipient of negative energy is often the person who reminded us that we’re not doing the right thing. When we shoot a messenger who reminds us that something we’re doing is harmful and misaligned with our deeper values. and may contribute to isolation.NAKED IDEALISM Even though the second option requires much more of our time and effort in the long run. This can make us quite uncomfortable at first! I’ve been in many such situations myself. the more we grow and attract people with positive intentions. it initially takes less effort to objectify an external person or group and label them as the “bad one” than it takes to admit we are wrong or deal with our internal conflict. it often feels like the easiest route to take. too. we give up a potentially important opportunity. Nobody enjoys thinking about that! Rather than acknowledge their internal discord. the more we will connect with people who recognize the ways in which the world is interconnected.
which is that we must also be careful of the HTT attitude within idealist groups united by a common cause. What seems to happen is that any large group of idealists bound by a particular cause will have individuals representing a range of other “priority causes” as well. creating conflict in at least two well-intentioned idealist groups. ranging from appreciation for Male B’s intervention to concern that Male B is being sexist by assuming that a female “needs a male to stand up for her. For example. I’ve observed this attitude combined with the need to appear perfect. and does not necessarily reflect anyone’s initial intentions. a group interested in environmental issues may have two or three members for whom race is also a key issue. He wishes to establish a group norm that is safe and egalitarian. Male A responds angrily. Given that many individuals in such a group probably have above-the-norm levels of pride in appearing fair and just (getting back to the “PC shoulds”). • • • .. The primary individuals involved in the e-mail dispute. accusing Male B of overreacting and trying to appear politically correct. if someone makes a racist or sexist comment. Each is likely to point out any violations of their own priority issues. e.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY This brings us to the next point. are very friendly and highly respectable. whom I had met in person. we may react very defensively if accused of such a violation–whether we were actually at fault or not. two or three for whom gender is also a key issue.g. I witnessed this type of conflict in a very well-intentioned internet group joined by values including a desire for a more peaceful and compassionate world. This is often not the fault of any one person. Male B. In this particular case. communicates to the group that the ambiguous comment might be construed as a sexual advance. for whom gender equality issues are a strong driving value. Several other females express opinions. A very important part of our image and identity has suddenly been questioned.” Things soon get so out of hand that a group moderator disables e-mail communication altogether. and so on. the story goes like this: • • Male A makes an ambiguous “joking” comment to Female A. and it’s again easier for us to shoot the messenger as a short-term solution.
However. so I understood the frustration they were feeling.137 Entire nations employ this tactic on occasion. First. If we allow the complexity of the world’s issues to overwhelm us. I felt bad that their half hour or more wasn’t spent creating something meaningful in the world. and so on. type of profession. age. So how can we transcend some of our HTT attitudes? There are a few possible strategies. Relatedly. . we all have different hierarchies of values. Should somebody call us out on a difference. we may eventually end up alone in our visions. I believe this ingroup-outgroup stereotyping may be even greater among idealists. dietary choices. Otherwise. this is a conscientious group of people. I observed a few individuals expend great energy in lengthy e-mails justifying to their peers why their position on a particular issue was correct. This may be a way of simplifying our identities.g. and given that idealists have an above-average tendency to see the complexities with which the world operates.NAKED IDEALISM Again. favorite athletic team.. and why they felt certain behaviors didn’t make them unethical people. this has often occurred in competitive market or war-related settings. class. psychological researchers such as Patricia Devine have noted the tendency for individuals to adopt an “ingroup” bias toward people we perceive as being like ourselves in one or more important ways. Apple Computer versus IBM). While some well-known organizations have successfully employed the “unified against an external enemy” or “we’re better than them” method to improve motivation (e. driven by admirable values. However. we need to attract as diverse a base of people as possible. and simply being aware of our own can help to avoid such conflict. I had been in their position not so long ago. it certainly doesn’t automatically make us a bad person–and keep in mind nobody else is perfect either. We view those who do not seem to fit our category as “outgroup” members. unable to attain them. As discussed in Part II. not label them as outsiders or drive them away. we may seek superficial solutions such as labeling. even among groups with whom we share much in common. Given that a function of stereotyping is to simplify complexity. When we’re looking to create larger societal visions and we’re in the minority. and may include race. gender. unable to change the world. some were probably unaware of the dynamics and assumptions driving themselves and others. depending upon where we are in our own self-development process. In a more recent example.
” Also. Muzafer Sherif found that hostility between two rival groups of children in a summer camp decreased after they were required to cooperate on shared goals. As I felt the conversation heading toward a cerebral and detached level. I stepped down off my pedestal and opened up about how I had wrestled with prejudices in my own life. or because you’re basing your self-worth upon your ability to change and control them. “I know this guy named Dave who’s really passionate about the environment. if you find yourself acting HTT. personal and interesting. That would have placed an unfair burden upon her. which reminded me that this level of conversation is still outside the societal norm. because diverse perspectives can be valuable.”138 In a classic psychology experiment. I realized that I was a bit too focused upon trying to convey my brilliance. or with an expectation that she provide any specific type of reaction or validation. Working with another group may not only reduce our stereotypes of them. Just as “playing big” and pursuing our visions gives others permission to do the same. Look for opportunities to work with them as well. As Baker suggests. If someone who knows me overhears a conversation where “those crazy environmentalists” are mentioned. Next. “Do not be afraid to join a group in which you might be the minority. This includes admitting our faults and our humanness from time to time. but he doesn’t fit that description at all. I did not do this in any kind of emotional outpouring.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY openly be your imperfect self. I just did it very matter-of-factly. don’t equate this with isolating yourself from people who think differently. they may respond. Is it really worth our time and effort to beat ourselves up over them?139 . Our communication then became even more meaningful. For example. consider whether it’s because you’re allowing someone else to trigger your insecurities. no matter what we do. She even thanked me for having the courage to bring up such topics. Recognize that some people are difficult to deal with. removing our own facades gives others permission to do the same. who had more than a dozen years of experience organizing political campaigns and educating the public on policy issues. I was recently speaking with someone I had just met. while you want to surround yourself with people who will support you in achieving your visions. We began talking about how certain political races might provoke additional friction on race and gender issues. but it may also decrease their biases against any groups we represent to them.
they often turn to people they know and trust for their experience and opinions. politics can involve any conversation in which we collectively manage our diverse self-interests to meet everyone’s needs. we discuss how to apply concepts from Part II and Part III to communicate more authentically. and interests? Under his fifth habit for highly successful people. and visions. This will assist us in advancing our visions as naked idealists. Connecting with people in a non-condescending way can bring about great positive change. What incentive have we given them to do so? Before we can truly relate to others.g.” Try to say that five times fast! We talked earlier about finding ourselves in strong disagreements where others have little desire to hear our viewpoints. To give a basic example. When people look to make a significant adjustment in their lives. “seek first to understand. a little bit about politics. which we will encounter if we seek to create a different world on any level. spend time focusing on what you want and need in your life.” Here. He simply related to me in an authentic. when I began contemplating a shift toward a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Political dialogue: Rising above the fray I also call this the 5-D Approach: “dialoguing dual-directionally despite differences. we may have adopted our HTT attitudes as an indirect (and less effective) way of getting what we really want–e. What are their visions. or adopt any type of HTT stance. Covey advises. In some cases. I sought information from a doctor I know who had been vegan for a few decades. they aren’t going to listen to us right off the bat. when this has the unintended opposite effect of pushing people away and decreasing our influence. via the activities outlined in much of this book. we must first listen to them and understand where they’re coming from. and it may involve only a few people. values. The truth is that in most cases.NAKED IDEALISM Finally. It doesn’t need to involve an elected official or a political party.. suppose that neighbors across the street from us repeatedly forget to put the lid on their trash can. values. In its broadest sense. then to be understood. First. We may find that some of our current attitudes and behaviors don’t mesh with our purpose. and litter blows around the neighborhood. non-condescending manner. For example. This is a stark contrast from our vision for . One reason I felt comfortable consulting him was because he didn’t force his opinions on me in any way. trying to appear as a know-all expert to attract people or exert influence in the world.
We often don’t know where we ourselves stand on a deeper level. we’re engaging in political dialogue. Thus. and we wish to keep our yard and our neighborhood clean.S. we often ignore it in our own lives. We do not hold meaningful. so should it be of any surprise that it often takes the back seat in political dialogue?140 Several key components outlined in the first two sections of the book can also be used to categorize possible levels of conversation regarding the state of our world and how it might be addressed–in other words. replying that “Hope is not a strategy. what our values are. we often communicate on a very superficial level. This is true on a national. organizational or individual level. However.. The conversation will likely revolve around how both of our needs can be met.” While this was not an original quote. another element is also required–vision! Although vision should be the starting point. we now have other options. When speaking about political issues. mutually beneficial dialogues. Hillary Clinton criticized opponent Barack Obama’s rhetoric on hope. we engage in debates that sound like two superficial monologues. Democratic Presidential Primaries. e. particularly societal challenges that are much more complex (recall the term divergent challenge from part II). They need to put their trash out. as mentioned in the Part II values discussion.g. let alone where the other person stands.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY a clean environment. These include the following: • • • • Values Vision Action steps (strategy or position) Current reality . you probably agree that both hope (confidence that we can achieve what we set out to do) and strategy (the action steps for getting to where we want to go) are vital. with the information synthesized in this book. Going back to Part III. political conversations. she seemed to mean that merely being optimistic won’t move us forward–we also need a defined path for making progress. When we walk across the street to address the issue with them. In the 2008 U. However.
NAKED IDEALISM The last two. their action steps. we often carry our divisive sparring over strategy beyond this setting and it becomes a barrier. What values drive each of them? The first believes the U.V. should get out of Iraq because they value preservation of human life–they argue that the U. noting any positive changes that have occurred during their tenure. doesn’t maintain a “hard stance” showing it’s not willing to back down.S. they engage in problemsolving debate over how they’re going to resolve an issue–i. They disagree vociferously.141 For example. possibly to the point where they can’t stand to speak with one another. and may provoke further conflict through its continued occupation. one individual may argue that the United States should withdraw from Iraq immediately. while the other believes that the U. This leads to division and anger. for example. should remain in Iraq because they value exactly the same thing: the preservation of human life. The biggest downside might be that lower-key political debates suffer poor T. which are synonymous with their position or stance. should continue to occupy Iraq until further stability has been achieved.e. The incumbent paints as rosy a picture as possible. If we talked more about values or visions. The second believes that the U. we wouldn’t have so much to argue about. generally points out everything that’s currently wrong.S. on the other hand. are the levels at which political debates probably most frequently occur. Where they would be more likely to come together and agree is their vision for the country and their values. current reality and action steps. During elections. The terrorists will declare .S.S.. They hold that if the U. We could think “win-win” and work together for mutual benefit more frequently. more people will die at the hands of terrorists. ratings alongside high-drama reality shows! Psychologist Rachel MacNair utilizes the Iraq War to illustrate how two people may fail to recognize their common values in a heated debate. candidates often spar over the state of current reality. is killing innocent people through its military presence there.S. Alongside this. While establishment of differences may be an important part of marketing one’s self during an election. The challenger.
given that eating habits are an important part of identity. Once I came to understand that some of my relatives were genuinely concerned about my physical health and well-being. Probably not many! Athletics. as an idealist. is that many of my friends and relatives share with me the value of good health–we’ve simply had access to different information. Caught up in their individual stances. I wasn’t attempting to convert them. but around the globe. and stated that I’d be happy to recommend resources if they were ever interested. play or book plots you’ve seen that don’t include some type of conflict or competition as a core component. reality television. however. movie. When I first announced that I was adopting a strict vegetarian diet. many of my family members and friends reacted with defensiveness or discomfort.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY victory and continue to build a stronger presence. but simply ending the debate and planting a seed that they could choose to pursue or ignore. I was acting outside the norm. and local crime news are only small pieces of the pie. as well as the center of many social rituals that bond friends and families. disrupting the status quo. Both individuals may envision a safe and peaceful world over the longer term. they may lose their ability to open-mindedly consider other possibilities. This is understandable. In the shorter term. This is particularly problematic if the two individuals disagreeing are in high-level leadership positions. “How do you get enough protein?” I shared with them the ironic fact that a concern for health was one of many reasons I was moving toward veganism. What made the reactions even more understandable. I expressed my appreciation for their shared concern. and may be considering only current reality. Or. explained that I had come across different information. political debates. they just believe in very different paths or strategies for achieving that vision. not only in Iraq. Another example of a common idealist topic that is more effectively considered on a values level is vegetarianism and veganism. they may not have even clarified what their longerterm vision is yet. as evidenced by questions like. it even takes on an addictive quality due to the drama it produces–if you don’t believe conflict has entertainment value. I was also reinforcing our common values to minimize stereotyping and potential conflict. pointing out surface-level differences through debating may seem to be the easiest route. consider how many television.142 Also. For many. .
” This leads into our next topic. and blindly accept their economic position even though it will likely harm us. the importance of voting. civil rights. Even if we don’t initially agree with certain strategies or action steps promoted by the group with which we identify. but it’s akin to striving for a vision while completely ignoring current reality–it won’t work. we may feel compelled to agree with (or simply ignore) other stances taken by them. We may want to share our viewpoints in a way that accepts and respects others while also inspiring positive change. As MacNair points out. we may wish to take our communication a step further. you may wish to talk more productively with others about environmentally responsible behavior. That not only invalidates another person and closes our own mind to wisdom they may have to offer us. To do this.NAKED IDEALISM One of the most commonly emphasized surface-level differences is political party labels. For example. we must avoid becoming so tied up in our own ideals of how we wish others would think or act that we fail to relate to them in the moment. Rettig notes that “most top sales people and activists would agree: the key to effective persuasion is to emphasize your area of commonality with the customer and downplay your areas of difference. Meeting others where they are and planting seeds of change Once we’ve deepened our listening skills and learned to carry on more meaningful dialogues. As we learn to work toward our visions rather than remaining stuck in disagreement. because we fear it may make us look uninformed or inadequate. such labels may force us into adopting entire sets of positions on a range of issues. This is a danger of any ideological group covering a range of issues–make sure that you’re not losing sight of your own values. and so on. we might support a particular candidate primarily for their stance on samesex marriage. seeking commonalities becomes more important than identifying with labels and sparring over differences. . For example. We may hesitate to admit that the party we publicly support may be “wrong” on certain issues.
but is also very aware of the cons. The stages of change are as follows:146 Precontemplation: The individual isn’t aware of a need to change or doesn’t want to change.. Without proper training. If we treat them as though they’re beyond where they really are. This ambivalence can last for months or even years. or they may have tried in the past to change but became frustrated about their ability to do so. we can try to assess where another person is in a larger change process. it can be more helpful to think of such occurrences as a partial and temporary setback. suggesting that someone quit smoking when they don’t yet understand and believe the dangers is probably a waste of energy. They may simply be uninformed or underinformed about the impacts of their behavior.g. However.g.. It is also normal to backslide.145 It is important to tailor our language to where someone currently is in this process. Some people view goal attainment as an “all or nothing” endeavor. and plant a seed of change by inspiring them to hear their own thoughts and contradictions more clearly. smoking or nail biting) or when they give up a desired habit (e.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY In some cases. In other words. to an earlier stage. they may display resistance. exercising and eating dark leafy greens). as though they’ve completely gone back to square one when they return to an old unwanted habit (e. all previous change progress is not automatically undone. I do not suggest that you utilize these techniques with anyone in need of mental health treatment. and perhaps even defensive behavior. coupled with elements of Motivational Interviewing. Prochaska and DiClemente observed that humans go through several stages in the process of changing our thinking and behavior.143 A useful framework for this is the Stages of Change Model developed by Prochaska and DiClemente. For example. These tools are merely intended to help you interact in a mutually beneficial way with people whose opinions differ from yours. you could do damage in such a situation. Contemplation: The individual is aware of a need to change and thinks about the pros of changing. . or cycle back.144 Note that you can also apply much of this knowledge to changing yourself.
She may or may not ever choose to take us up on that. Suppose that we’re interested in seeing more people eat organically grown food. How long did it take from the point you started thinking about it to the point that you fully implemented the desired change? Let’s consider two examples of using the Stages of Change to determine where people are. These assume a one-on-one conversation with some privacy. Maintenance: The individual has achieved their desired results. Now suppose instead that the same friend says to us. and she just sees no sense in it. has a plan of action. “My friend is in the contemplation stage!” They’re aware of a . As we can see. but is ready to change and has already begun to make modifications in their habits. we confidently think. but I still feel like there are many things that just don’t make sense about it. Probably the best we can do at this point is simply express our understanding that organic farming may seem like an unfamiliar concept. Action: The individual has not yet achieved their desired results. “I’ve occasionally thought about eating more organic foods because I’m aware of some of its positive health and environmental impacts. possibly within the next month or two. A friend just expressed to us that she thinks all the attention to food labels is fanatical. Consider one or two major changes you’ve made in your life. Our friend is most likely in the precontemplation stage. and has often attempted some action in the past with limited or unsuccessful results. We usually undergo significant psychological and attitudinal change before engaging in a visible behavioral shift. changing thinking and behavior is usually not a simple one-step process.” Having memorized Naked Idealism word-for-word. They are focused upon preventing a return to previous behavior and consolidating any gains they’ve experienced.NAKED IDEALISM Preparation: The individual intends to change. and let her know we’re happy to recommend informational resources if she ever wishes to know more. as attempting such conversations in group settings can produce unpredictable dynamics. note that people support it for many reasons.
much of effectively relating to others–especially where there is anxiety or conflict–is about transcending our own egos. especially any ambivalence. and C are losses or costs. MI is a “style for eliciting behavior change by helping [others] to explore and resolve ambivalence. An important component of active listening is reflective listening. It’s important to resist the urge to debate! As with creating the results we envision. but are still ambivalent.” This helps to ensure that we’re both on the same page. and it gives them an opportunity to correct us if we’ve excluded anything. They may realize how they’re “fighting themselves” when they hear their own thoughts out loud. we might ask if they’d like us . this may actually decrease the probability of change. It’s important to honor the other individual’s freedom to make their own choices. nodding our head in acceptance. For example. This involves stating our understanding of what they’ve said to us. We might ask them what they see as the pros and cons. People will be most open to conversation when we express acceptance and affirmation for where they currently are. you feel that X. Y. you feel that A. include the following:147 • • • • Direct persuasion is not an effective method for resolving ambivalence. and Z are benefits of changing your behavior. “So on one hand. not just the parts we agree with. and then reflecting a summary of their thoughts back to them. and on the other hand.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY need to change. Sometimes simply enabling the other person to hear the different parts of their own ambivalence through reflective listening can motivate change. so that we understand where they are. This calls for an additional tool. Motivational Interviewing. It’s not all about us! After we have a better sense of what their pros and cons are. B. is key. let’s return to the example of our friend who is ambivalent about organic food. This means all of what they’ve said. Instead. or MI. Actively listening to what the other person is saying. • • With this new communication tool. per Rollnic and Miller.” Key ideas.
they have to be motivated enough to take action. a year. A friend recently told me of his efforts nearly a decade earlier to alter policies within his son’s school. His own struggles. The same holds true for change endeavors on a larger scale. Often the best we can do is to serve as a catalyst in a much larger process. . I suggested to him that his endeavors may have laid the groundwork necessary for this later change to occur–if it hadn’t been for him. we want to leave most of the homework for the other person to do on their own. had been fruitless. as a new group of people had actually taken the steps needed to implement them.148 We’re not responsible for others’ change. he explained. it could have taken another 10 years! Hesitantly. don’t expect to see profound changes after one or two conversations with someone–often the most we can do is plant a seed that may sprout a month.NAKED IDEALISM to recommend a few resources in some of those specific areas. Whatever the case. as he had encountered great resistance. he nodded in agreement. He modestly denied responsibility for recent adoption of the long-overdue measures. or even a decade from now.” Generally. Accepting this limited responsibility without giving up altogether will help us to maintain happiness and balance. We mustn’t allow ourselves to be offended if they say “no.
This could include people we’ve sought out and chosen to know. a belief we can attain it. Googling “Law of Attraction” yields more than two million results. I think that it’s often oversimplified as a marketing gimmick. The Law of Attraction itself. Clearly. how can we more proactively attract people and other resources to be a part of our envisioned life and world? The Law of Attraction: A distraction? Popular works like The Secret have given much additional publicity to this concept covered decades ago by Gawain and Hill. it takes a bit of effort to do the following: • Choose to create things that are truly in line with our authentic self. ensuring that our desire is strong. It basically states that we attract into our lives whatever we spend the most time thinking about–essentially. is really only part of the process. It also holds that we will also attract necessary resources if we follow some of the guidelines outlined under the section on creating visions. respectfully. distracting people from more complete and sensible approaches. and authentically with others. To be frank. .149 At the time I’m writing this. thoughts become things. even when they don’t live up to our ideals. As you’ve already read. however. the law itself has attracted many. This includes having a strong desire for something. Attracting Resources to Achieve Results We now have some techniques for conversing more effectively. or people whom fate or coincidence happens to have sent our way.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY 23. If we desire results larger than what we can create on our own. and a full willingness to have it along with everything that comes with it.
“Don’t be a secret!” It’s up to you to get your visions and interests out there. Mike Keener of the Media Action Project emphasizes that if we are passionate about a particular issue or cause. motivation.g. There may be parts of our reality that we cannot yet understand or observe directly. e. Break our large visions down into manageable visions and action steps.NAKED IDEALISM • • Establish a clearly defined vision. and we can take conscious and active steps to increase the likelihood of attracting and creating what we desire. Without concise messages regarding what’s most important to us. One of my life coach training assignments was to develop an “elevator speech” describing what I do as a coach and how it benefits others. and have even derived a few slogans or taglines from it. and attempting to debate such points would lead nowhere. and behavior necessary to achieve our desired results. He recommends having a single message with a few different ways to say it. “Guiding well-intentioned people to create the lives and world they envision.. Communicating with others After we’ve done our homework from the previous parts of the book. I found this to be quite useful. we need to expose our authentic self and our visions to the rest of the world so we can truly begin to move forward.” Keep in mind that you don’t need to come up with a perfect version before sharing it with others. It had to be catchy and succinct enough to deliver to someone I had just met during a short elevator ride.g.150 We’re probably on the right . as in the “Bottles from Heaven” story I shared earlier.. then it is our duty to craft a 30-second or less message describing its importance. ensuring that there aren’t any elements we aren’t willing to have. making them known to others. As coaches often say to clients who are starting their own businesses. I cannot rule out the possibility that things sometimes come into our lives through potentially supernatural or divine means. What I can say is that things certainly do not always manifest themselves in this fashion. and that it may change over time. e. and structuring it so that we repeat our key point three times within 30 seconds. ensuring that we have the framework. we may miss opportunities to attract others.
and a communication network. we utilize illustrative stories with characters that the audience can relate to.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY track if our statement really resonates with us. This applies to work and non-work settings. Social networks are collections of individuals who are connected in some way: they actively relate to one another. and Matt work for a 30-person organization run by Sherry. Leah. Mike has the best ability to earn others’ trust. As noted by David Krackhardt and Jeffrey Hanson. We can also employ the “seek to understand before being understood” rule whenever possible. and they seek out problem-solving and technical skills from the hubs of the advice network. . Because each of us has a unique set of strengths and values. Group members share the most sensitive political information with those at the center of the trust network. share one or more types of resources. This makes it easier for our audience to imagine themselves as the character engaging in the desired behavior. or exchange information. and achieving desirable results. For example. a given group of people can be interconnected through at least three different types of networks: a trust network. getting a sense of the audience’s background beforehand so that we can tailor our story or other message to connect with their interests. Understanding & leveraging social networks We can promote our nakedly idealistic visions more efficiently if we know the functions that people like to play within our social networks. Keener also suggests that if we have slightly more time with our audience. Of everyone in the workplace.151 Suppose that Mike. we might tell a story of a student who inspired a campus wide movement saving 20 tons of paper in a year. people regularly speak with each other on a range of topics–and some individuals may be the primary conduits of information between subgroups. an advice network. Within a communication network. if we’re talking to a college campus about the benefits of recycling. and if it makes sense to several friends and relatives after we practice it on them. we each play different roles in networks.
ideas. While they may not be incredibly social or persuasive. Although Sherry is formally in charge of the organization. Leah will tailor her sharing of technical advice to support the vision. Connectors: Similar to communication network hubs. Relatedly. most people go to Leah. for that. Then. The individuals at the center of the networks hold much of the organization’s informal power–the power that leads to things actually getting done. on the other hand. Think about organizations or groups to which you belong. and opinions between groups that may not otherwise have direct contact. she’s not really at the center of any of these networks. Rather than talking about types of networks. They may command high levels of respect. However. her visions stand a good chance of gaining buy-in and support if she takes the time to build rapport with Mike. he’s not very good at giving valuable “how to” input on getting the job done. He’s a hub of the communication network. However. their wealth of information can lend great credibility to an idea or product. he discusses three specific types of people that must usually be involved for an idea to catch on. seems to be present at every important conversation. Leah and Matt. Matt. Malcolm Gladwell outlines a theory of how previously little-known ideas or products can suddenly reach a “tipping point” and spread like an epidemic. the hub of the advice network.152 You likely already know one or more of each: • Mavens: These are people with a great deal of knowledge who can provide very valuable information and speak as an authority. • . Who are the most influential people? Is there someone whom you and others often approach with a certain type of issue? Are there individuals who seem to know everything that is going on in the organization? Perhaps you play a key role as a network hub. channeling information. gaining a sense of their needs and tailoring her presentation accordingly. his trusted responses may change their mind if he’s bought into Sherry’s vision. when people come to Mike to voice their concerns about Sherry’s approaches. and often passes information along to others. they speak with a large number of people.NAKED IDEALISM so many share their important secrets and opinions with him. Any personal biases filtering the volumes of information Matt passes along will also favor Sherry’s vision.
to get them generating buzz about it. We know that many people will be excited about it once they fully understand it–we just need to get the word out! We’ll probably want to start by getting the input and endorsements of a few mavens in the environmental and engineering fields. we may wish to send samples to a few connectors in the manufacturing industry. Thus. We might also recruit some salespeople to help us pitch our product to key industry players. they’ll probably be flattered that you’re including them! As an example of using social networks. keep in mind which of your own contacts seem to fit these descriptions. and not only ourselves. Also. We’re more likely to obtain constructive feedback and . Before we can spell n-a-k-e-d i-d-e-a-l-i-s-m three times. if we’re pursuing visions in line with our authentic self. easy to manufacture device that cuts the carbon emissions of any car in half. then there’s little reason to feel selfish. connect. and involve them. so they’re people we’ll genuinely want to get to know anyway. keep in mind that people who fit the above profiles most likely enjoy opportunities to share. then a high percentage of the people in our networks will probably have values and interests similar to ours. “That seems very artificial. At this point you may be thinking.” When we can relate authentically to a diverse range of people. This way you can utilize your own characteristics to move things along. also consider whether you fit one or more of the above types. as long as our visions serve the greater good.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY • Salespeople: These individuals can have great influence over others with their negotiation skills. Alongside this. keep a few things in mind. our visions and ideas will spread much further. Share your ideas with them. ask for their input. and recognize where you may wish to enlist the help of others. and charisma. As with social network hubs. I admit that I often struggle with this myself. Recall the discussion on asking. suppose that we just invented a highly affordable. Finally. and influence.” Being a person who values authentic relationships. as you seek to gain support for your visions. as though I’m simply labeling and using people. sociability. as they can provide well-informed and trusted opinions on the product that will stand out to potential manufacturers. several companies wish to have discussions with us about our innovative creation! Our social networks are also impacted by our “isms” and “PC shoulds. in either overt or subtle ways. However. or ask your friends if you seem to fit any of them. First.
153 .. This enables us to adapt our future visions and approaches to a broader range of people. also have higher levels of innovation (e. Research suggests that this also happens on a larger level: metropolitan areas with higher levels of cultural diversity and acceptance. encouraging us to be more innovative.NAKED IDEALISM additional ideas from others with different perspectives. denoted by factors such as larger gay and lesbian populations.g. number of new patents generated) and economic well-being.
However. fear can motivate us when we must prepare for upcoming challenges. fears do not help us. however. In more modest amounts. if we’re in the process of pursuing what we want. It can serve a protective function. if we had some fears about speaking to a crowd of 100 people tomorrow morning. fear often keeps us from taking action to achieve our visions: • • Dread is strong fear.” . Relatedly. Ironically. especially of what one is powerless to avoid: “His dread of strangers kept him from socializing.155 Defining fear Fear is “a feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger.”156 The following synonyms and definitions from freedictionary. Often. we might take that as a sign that we should rehearse our presentation one more time this evening. For example. Rettig outlines a range of fears likely to plague activists. one of the most common obstacles we place in our own way is fear of success itself.” Dismay robs one of courage or the power to act effectively: “The rumor of war caused universal dismay. if we were being chased by a bear. In Taming Your Gremlin. powerlessness. or inability to act–in other words. For example.154 If we’re not ready to have and relate to things in a manner that defines success for us. Rick Carson notes that our inner critics or “gremlins” can raise a variety of objections as to why we just can’t do it.com involve some type of paralysis.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY 24. Overcoming Fear of Success Fear is not always a bad thing. why might we be afraid? Shouldn’t we generally feel inspired and excited? Simply learning to understand and acknowledge this skeptical but often self-sabotaging part of ourselves can lead us toward success. fear would elevate our adrenaline and enable us to move much faster. then we probably won’t have success.
Also. So where do they come from? Alongside the distorted thinking patterns outlined in Part II. I half expect the Bogeyman or Bogeywoman to ring the doorbell! These are clearly not emotions we want to experience frequently as we pursue our visions.” As we pursue our visions. as we define and pursue our visions. the world. While the latter may be true. Then. Family and friends may accuse us of trying to be something we’re not. they may still fear losing us . As we become more authentic and express different parts of ourselves. They will think I’m trying to be better than they are. our existing relationships may change–not necessarily end. and our success may lead others to consider the possibility that they are responsible for at least some of their own situation as well. characterized by confusion and helplessness: “Consternation gripped the city as the invaders approached. or the manner in which we relate to others and the world. along with logical alternatives to each: False success assumption #1: “Success will lead to others around me disliking me. Those around us may need time to readjust to the “real us. I list below several common false assumptions surrounding success. but take on a different dynamic.” It’s our responsibility to make sure we don’t push others away by developing a holier than thou attitude. we’re still responsible for our own choices and actions. these assumptions may trigger fear.NAKED IDEALISM • Consternation is often paralyzing. our social networks may change dramatically. we may hold false assumptions about ourselves.” Assumptions that drive fear of success After reading the definitions and synonyms for fear above. of selling out and acting like a member of the more powerful group–the same group that may be responsible for injustice against ours. Upwardly mobile individuals from limited-income or minority backgrounds are very likely to face this dilemma. This leads us right back into reactive problem solving mode and away from our desired results.
If we’re open to them. After I returned to my Midwestern hometown following my first year at boarding school. and it sometimes felt like a challenge. what’s to stop us from getting to know many more people? Several times in my life. Exposing our authentic self and pursuing what’s important to us will not only alter our current relationships.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY altogether because of our association with a new group. if we don’t pursue our visions at all. At some point in our lives. and we might even get some sympathy from others. I had to resolve friction with a good friend who perceived that I had become somewhat snobbish in my new environment. Even though I don’t consider myself an extremely outgoing person. each with an expression of pity? Would that provide more fulfillment than pursuing what’s important to us? .” This fear goes hand in hand with the previous one. and we have the right to celebrate it. we can pity ourselves. It takes a great deal of courage to break out of the box and act in line with our authentic self when we think differently than much of the world. I came to realize that my behavior had changed slightly. and we worked things out in the long run. but it will attract people with whom we may have even more in common. I always made new friends. we won’t be alone at all. False success assumption #2: “Success will lead to loneliness. I’ve adjusted to settings where I knew only one person or nobody at all. then we deserve every ounce of success. Alternately. because I’ll be different from the people who have offered me support until now. we developed relationships with each of the people with whom we’re now acquainted. Given that we now have even more life experience. and I’ll have to manage the challenges of success on my own. What if we received 100.000 postcards in the mail. False success assumption #3: “I don’t deserve success and haven’t done anything special to be worthy of it.” If we’ve put in the effort. but perhaps this fear just suggests that we haven’t met like-minded people yet.
the same basketball players who have made the greatest number of baskets probably also hold the records for the greatest number of missed shots. If we’re continuing to fail repeatedly in an area. Strengths or ability levels are somewhat fluid and are based not only upon talent. we have to face the knowledge that we have always been powerful to change all along and that we could have changed a year or five or 10 years ago. Ti Caine’s opinion is similar to Marianne Williamson’s noted earlier: “Our very deepest fear is that when we really reclaim our power and succeed. As one of my mentors liked to reiterate of his favorite sport. which means we’re depriving ourselves of learning and growth opportunities. Then you come face to face with the realization that we caused unnecessary suffering to ourselves and others along the way by our failure to change. this assumption might actually be true. we’re probably not stretching ourselves much. but also upon effort and practice. If we truly pursue success. then I’m really a failure!” Earlier we discussed the importance of separating our egos from our desired results.157 False success assumption #5: “I might discover that my delayed success is mostly my fault. we might need to reevaluate whether we’re fully recognizing. it is important to separate our self-identity from how well we perform in pursuing those results. And that suffering is not a necessary part of life. Change comes from choice and we have always had that power. it stems from dwelling upon the past. not looking to the future. However.”158 . If we never have any failures.NAKED IDEALISM False success assumption #4: “I’m not capable of handling the responsibilities of success–and if I try hard and fail. we are almost certain to experience failure.” While not always the case. Likewise. accepting and utilizing the strengths that we do have.
Our parents and siblings strongly express that they would be very sad to see us go. our friend points out that it’s completely understandable. • • For example. but we’re having second thoughts about going. We must forgive ourselves so that we can move on. she bluntly reminds us how badly we’ve said we want this opportunity. It will be a big change for everyone. given that neither we nor our family have ever left our hometown. and our mom openly attempts to make us feel guilty about leaving the family. but only part of the process. In fact. and the frustration we and our parents feel is simply due to the fact that we care about one another. even if these reasons are no longer valid. our courage later inspires a sibling to leave home to pursue a dream job! . We recognize that these assumptions have allowed us to “play it safe. have they allowed us to avoid something. suppose we’ve received an opportunity to travel several states away to pursue our dream job as a ranger in a national park. and neither have any of our immediate family members. While it’s initially stressful. we can utilize a four-step model:159 • • We must recognize any faulty assumptions we’ve held. including false assumptions about success. or to manipulate others with self-pity? We must accept that there were understandable reasons for holding these assumptions. For example. While it’s initially difficult to admit this to ourselves or our friend.” remaining in an environment where we have already earned our acceptance. is an important step. When we bring our situation to our best friend. all works out in the long run. We realize that we’re being plagued by faulty assumptions #1 and #2: we fear our family’s rejection. To transcend them and move on. and we fear being alone. A few days later we develop the courage to let our family know that we’ve decided to pursue our dream job. We have never traveled beyond our hometown. which may include some of those above. to hold onto something we’re afraid we’ll lose. We must recognize why we’ve held onto these assumptions.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY Alleviating our fears Recognizing our fears.
or at least some parts of it. If you ever feel that you’ve dealt with all your fears but still remain hesitant to pursue a result you envision. and make sure you’re including all major aspects of what success will entail. or write them down on a sheet of paper and destroy it. and then do one of the following: destroy them in our mind. Caine offers a very simple alternate suggestion for alleviating fears. We can then continue to visualize the future we wish to live.NAKED IDEALISM For those who find mental imagery highly effective. Reconsider the possibility that you might not genuinely want it. return to the phase of asking yourself exactly why you want it. . He advises that we visualize our fears coming true in the future.
I have seen and heard numerous examples of people who don’t give themselves the care they deserve. As cited by Michael Arloski. appeared highly anxious and “smoked like chimneys. and take actions in each. it’s important that we manage our own health and wellness. Wellness.” Likewise. we can consider where we are in different health-related areas of our life. I recommend that you take away whatever parts are most valuable to you or return to it later. he observed. Much has to do with how we choose to relate–or neglect to relate–to our surroundings. For most of us wishing to help others and improve the world.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY 25. If health. there are many ways we can improve personal health and wellness while working toward a sustainable world. Uncontrollable factors like genetics and injuries aside. As in other areas of our life. Doing so increases our odds of living a long and productive life. I have noted many visibly unhealthy professionals (including medical doctors) in health and human services settings where poor health was also a common issue among clients. share our gifts and energy with others. The latter may be particularly difficult to digest initially. a colleague told me of the signs of stress exhibited by many of the international aid workers. and sustainability are not among your own top values. Many of them. wellness. This is particularly the case in the environmental arena. In settings where the focus is upon assisting others. and leave a lasting legacy. We may thus have more time to pursue our visions in the world. with an assumption that many but not all readers will have similar priorities. Enhancing Health. much of what follows may sound like “shoulds. & Global Sustainability In this section I suggest action steps that are strongly based upon my own values. martyring ourselves via poor health habits helps no one. some of what follows may suggest that your actions don’t yet align with your authentic self and visions. Upon returning from a trip to assess public health needs of tsunami victims. Don Ardell . To begin.” If they are among your top values.
” To do this in a way that benefits both ourselves and the world.NAKED IDEALISM suggests that we need to take personal responsibility for our wellness choices in several dimensions of life: 160 • • • • Stress management Physical fitness Nutritional awareness Sensitivity to our physical. can we walk or ride a bicycle? Research has linked car commuting to back pain. we can consider our modes of transportation throughout the day. rather than taking an elevator. we can think beyond traditional exercise like going to the gym if we find it particularly difficult to motivate ourselves. Less fuel and fewer doctor visits also equal money in our pockets. sharing an artistic talent. and personal environments You may already be thinking about ways you could improve in these areas. and minimize pollution. First. or ways in which you already have. increased blood pressure. save energy.162 This doesn’t sound like fun to me! Pedestrian rage is essentially nonexistent compared to road rage. Even if we commute a reasonable distance. arthritis. Related to stress management and physical fitness. asthma. we can still decrease stress and lessen environmental impact if public transportation is regularly available. lowered mood and frustration tolerance. or even lending a listening ear. I outline below a few strategies or action steps that blend these dimensions and connect personal and collective wellness. . and decreased overall life satisfaction. Transportation options that provide a workout also improve our health. work absences. I provide facts about current reality that support some of them. Additionally. For example. as noted earlier. Small changes can easily add up to 30 minutes of movement per day. social. Arloski suggests viewing exercise as “movement. this doesn’t need to be money. it can include expressing gratitude for someone’s friendship. can we use the stairs? Rather than getting in the car. cardiovascular disease. Again. we may experience health-related benefits simply by giving to others in our own unique way. 161 This helps with stress management alongside providing benefits to others.
In such cases. economic and public health implications. Do the things we put into our body everyday support the self and world we envision? If they don’t. we might begin to look at how our choice of living location impacts health and well being on both a personal and community level. We can also consider the energy efficiency of our home.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY Some of us live in areas that have few or no sidewalks. perhaps one of the most intimate ways we relate to the world around us. but true. visions and priorities? If not. what would our ideal setting look like. and no amenities within walking distance. as pesticides may have unintended and unpredictable impacts upon our health and the environment. I admit that I haven’t the slightest idea where many of the items in our kitchen cupboards came from. Along with personal nutrition implications. Does our location support our values. no safe places to ride a bicycle. and what steps would it take to attain that? This may be a difficult thing to consider initially.500 miles.org. too! We may also explore the personal and global benefits associated with reduction or elimination of animal product consumption. We can buy organic foods when possible. by decreasing power plant pollution. we can plant a garden. Next. A growing . Are we heating a house that’s much larger than we need? These considerations can also benefit others’ health indirectly. this has extensive environmental. our food ingredients travel an average of 1. If we have some spare time and space. sustainable agriculture. which contributes to life balance and well-being. Then we’ll know what’s going into our food and we’ll get some exercise. We can take steps such as insulating and utilizing low-energy lighting and appliances. According to 100milediet. which expends energy and adds to greenhouse gases. “Miss Mindy. We can learn where and how our food is grown and try to support local. these are tomatoes? You mean they grow on plants? Where do they grow them?” Although our own lack of awareness may not be this extreme. are we really living in integrity? Food production and distribution consume energy and other resources that affect the world in myriad ways. we can consider our diet. A friend who runs an urban farm relates a story about neighborhood adolescents who ask with great wonder. The following elements of our current reality are uncomfortable to consider. but our living environment is a very large piece of how we relate to the world. Fewer costs require less time working to pay the bills.
there are many ways to integrate our efforts on both fronts. as does improving sustainability. Five tons of manure are produced each year per every person in the U..S.. it creates more opportunity for diseases (e.g. it increases breeding areas for diseasetransmitting insects like mosquitoes and destroys pollution-absorbing vegetation. what proactive steps can we take to move toward our envisioned future? Should you wish to implement significant lifestyle changes.165 Waste runoff pollutes water sources. When large numbers of farmed animals and humans are unnaturally close together. avian flu) to mutate and jump species. and dispels the widespread myth that plantbased diets cannot provide sufficient protein. Concentrated animal farming currently takes a further toll on health and the environment. some have outlined the negative impacts of current consumption upon racial minority groups. you might consult some of the sources I cite or speak with a qualified expert.167 Much of this also has social justice implications. five pounds of grain and 2. .NAKED IDEALISM body of public health and nutrition literature documents the physiological risks of consuming flesh and dairy products.164 Far more people could be fed by taking out the middleman–or “middlecow”–by growing food crops for direct consumption by people rather than additional farm animals. By some estimates. it doesn’t always have to be an “either/or” dilemma between self and community. hormones) can be filtered out by drinking water treatment. Depending upon our own values and priorities.163 It takes much more energy. Given our current reality.g. However. food. and not all chemicals (e.168 Maintaining personal health and wellness takes some time and commitment. water and land to produce animal flesh than to produce plant-based food with equivalent energy and nutrition.500 gallons of water yield just one pound of beef.166 When forests are continually cleared to support animal production.
169 In my self-development course for community leadership students. Maintaining a vision-based approach as outlined in this book can help to alleviate such symptoms for several reasons.e.. Given my own experience in several idealist settings. Additionally. Rethinking Burnout & Compassion Fatigue Idealists who work or volunteer on important causes often face high rates of burnout and compassion fatigue. even during difficult times. as our visions help to attract other people with similar interests.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY 26. we’re less likely to experience learned helplessness by attempting the same things over and over again in vain. First. I could relate. and instead focused on what we do want. or knew people suffering from burnout. Additionally. we’ll gain social support to assist us through difficult times and to encourage us to try new strategies. because focusing upon our visions opens up our mind to more possibilities for strategies and action steps. Several shared stories of how they currently or previously felt on the verge of burnout. what we don’t want. breaking down our large visions into more manageable “chunks” avoids feeling overwhelmed–it’s easier to see the progress we’re making. discerning between the two directions of values– expressing toward the world versus obtaining from the world–helps us to meet our important needs and remain energized. Finally. Furthermore. That can easily happen when we’re entangled in the short-term web of our current problems. . few topics sparked as much discussion as this. it keeps us out of the negative thinking of a problem-solving approach. i.
Prioritize . Below I share three of their responses to the following question. we have much to learn from one another’s experiences and differing viewpoints. fulfilled life while also creating a better world?” James Weinberg. a company devoted to matching talent and employers in the social sector. Previously. joy and fulfillment. a former graduate school classmate. when we’re out to change the world.500 to 6. You must embrace the fact that everything about you will change over time. what one or two pieces of advice would you give to someone who wishes to live a more authentic.NAKED IDEALISM 27. as National Development Director at BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life). someone who works with high-potential idealists. or both. we usually can’t do it on our own. he helped the organization grow from having a $4 million budget to a $15 million budget and expanded service levels from 1. Continually work to evaluate the things that bring you genuine pride. and relate them to the framework of this book: “Given your unique life experience and observations thus far. I contacted several inspiring people who fit the category of an accomplished idealist. In line with this.170 James’ words of advice highlight the value of self-reflection and authenticity outlined in Part II. adding an emphasis upon viewing ourselves as dynamic and continually growing. “You must be true to yourself and honest with yourself. Thoughts from Several Remarkable People As we’ve discussed.000 children nationally over three years. founded Commongood Careers. In the common struggles of life. He also echoes a key theme of the book: prioritizing that which is truly most important to us.
wealth... Way out there is Level 5. Level 3 pertains to extended family and friends. each is a pre-requisite to the next one.” As I jokingly responded to David. has provided me with valuable advice on several occasions. Some people try to enter the onion at Level 5 or Level 4 and think that they can skip the pre-requisite levels.. He has served countless students in his years on the faculty of the University at Albany’s Public Affairs and Policy graduate program. move to Level 2. Level 4 is where I worry about my professional goals.g. physical. I now understand why many of us cry when we cut an onion! I believe there is a cyclical element to this model as well. and pursue them as if your life depended on it–because it does. while also placing close relationships before material possessions–rather than attempting the sequence backwards as many of us do. . and all those things . prestige. For me. Level 1. where reside matters pertaining to core family. His response reinforces the wisdom of grounding oneself and being before having. and spiritual health. which in turn further enhances our ability to function and grow at the outer levels. our experiences with other people in Levels 2 and 3 might inspire additional Level 1 spiritual growth.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY these things above all the other distractions and demands in your life. e. Always devote personal energy and attention to all five levels in their necessary order of priority.You have to attend to all these levels in the proper order. a family friend. is reserved for matters pertaining to personal. attaining the rank of Distinguished Professor and having served as dean. When things are OK at Level 1. devoted to concerns about material well-being. the most important level. It never works that way. His children also contribute to the world in their own unique and meaningful ways.” David Andersen. “I have always believed that our personal and professional lives are arranged in an onion-like fashion with the most important levels located closest to the center.
His response further emphasizes the importance of clarifying our visions on both the personal and community/world levels. With profits from his books. 100. 2) Spend hours and hours over many months getting very clear about what you want (for yourself. be sure to weigh it alongside your own! Dave’s emphasis on thinking into the distant future also encourages global sustainability. he underscores the value of trusting our own wisdom. and all the other people in the world) for every area of life for the next 5. Additionally. he generously established a foundation to provide coaching to leaders of social sector organizations. Dave has authored several books on life coaching–I’ve cited a few of them in this text. 20. 50. “My advice is as follows: 1) Take no one’s advice and take no action until you have created a long list of ‘advice to yourself’ and a long list of possible actions to get what you want. the people you love. ensuring that countless others will have the same opportunities that we do in the present.” Thus. and 500 years. as you consider the advice in this book. 10. .NAKED IDEALISM I first communicated with Dave Ellis via a conference call for coaches interested in working with nonprofits and social activists. In addition to the bestselling college textbook in the United States.
Many of the Part IV concepts on having will also take hold through practice. the most important next step is to practice. and start outlining your vision. To make your time and effort worthwhile. values or strengths. I hope that you’re traveling a little more lightly and confidently than you were at the beginning of the trail. values and strengths. and maintain focus. Unless you’re a “go it alone” type of person. My hope is that you create a life where work and leisure provide great joy. a counselor or therapist. practice. don’t be too harsh on yourself! Remember. I encourage you to envision a future that pulls you forward with great excitement and energy. and the two of you can provide each other with feedback regarding how well you seem to use the concepts in social settings. and where your authentic self is fully exposed! T . I’ve benefited from each of these types of relationships in my life. Also visit some of the books I’ve cited for greater detail. develop visions.NEXT STEPS his is where I exit the trail and allow you to continue on your journey. revisit some of the exercises outlined in Part II. It’s up to you to determine how to use the information we’ve covered together. Above all. Depending upon where you currently are. helping you to clarify purpose. this could be a life coach. Are you naked yet? If so. You might ask a friend to read this book. pick a concrete project you’d like to complete by next week. If you’re still unclear on purpose. practice what you’ve read here. or a mentor. current reality and action steps. To develop skills at using the creative tension framework and telescoping.com. Whatever route you choose. this book is merely a starting point for a much larger transformational process–one that will likely last the rest of your life. manage obstacles. where interconnectedness with the world provides deep fulfillment. you may wish to enlist the services of someone who can be your partner and guide along the path. I hope you remembered to bring your sunscreen and some natural bug repellent! At the very least. and outline some of the differences at idealistcoach. as you observe yourself relating to others. I encourage you to develop great clarity on how you can make a positive difference without sacrificing your own happiness.
Express Yourself If you have found something in this book particularly enlightening. or if you have constructive ideas that could improve a future edition. . please let us know at pubinfo (at) divergentdrummer (dot) com.
About the Author and Strategic Life Coaching
Alongside life coaching and reading self-development books, Dave enjoys composing music, writing, beatboxing (vocal percussion), cycling, vegan cooking, camping, hiking, jogging, gardening, landscaping, and simply creating things. Dave earned his B.A. in Psychology from Yale, his M.S. in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon, his M.A. in Community Counseling from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and his Certified Life Coach credential through the Institute for Life Coach Training. His past experience includes designing and teaching a graduate course on self-leadership and assessing corporate managers on their leadership competencies. He also authored The Global Vegan Waffle Cookbook and composed an accompanying music album, The Inner Light Trilogy. Through his strategic coaching and consulting practice, Dave encouragingly guides others to define and create more authentic and fulfilling lives. He invites phone-based clients from anywhere in the world. To learn about his services, sign up for updates, and access other informative resources, visit idealistcoach.com.
Jim Vuocolo. and Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Community Counseling Department. to my sister Sherry for inspiring me by being herself. Nir Goldman. Jo Stepaniak patiently answered questions related to book authoring. Matt Scheurer. Boys of Fuess. Leah Jackman-Wheitner. input. and DDI team members. Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz School of Public Policy and Management. Jim Wolford-Ulrich and the Duquesne University School of Leadership and Professional Advancement allowed me to create and teach the course that inspired this book.Acknowledgments My deepest love and gratitude goes to my life partner Jen Joy Wheitner. Citizens of Stiles. Brian Leonard. whose patience. Many thanks to Melody Platz for insightful editorial comments on several levels. Thanks to my family and to Jen’s family for their encouragement. and Pace Smith provided useful feedback. David Andersen. energy and ideas: Rich and Zu Bjork. Help4Nonprofits provided a powerful example of a vision-based process in action. Dave Ellis. Past mentors and colleagues with profound influences include my instructors from Mansfield. Gary Crouth. Bryan Hatheway. however you may perceive it. . the Pittsburgh Vegan Meetup. and Jason Tate. Eric Bruns. as have my coaching and counseling clients. and support made it possible for me to write this book. Tom Matura. Pat Clark. Carrie and Elisia Ross-Stone. Phillips Andover. Russ Kiser. Michelle and Randy Stone. and to Karen Fishell for proofreading assistance. Lynn Meinke. Ron Gaydos. convinced me to “write my book sooner rather than later. My cousin. Yale. Annie Preis. I’m indebted to both of them and to the various other authors whose concepts appear throughout this text. Sue Dockter. along with Robbie Ali. Many friends and acquaintances have inspired me through their courage. Thanks to Bruce Elkin for his feedback and introduction to Robert Fritz’s model through his writing and coaching. My classmates have provided inspiration. and James Weinberg generously provided profound thoughts. and to the Higher Power joining all of us. Rebecca Cheung. Eric Johnson. as did the courage of Randy Pausch. Michael Kumer.” The Unitarian sermons of Reverend David Herndon and Jeff Liebmann confirmed the value of this project.
14 Most of these are areas commonly explored via life coaching. the basic needs outlined by this theory are survival. (2006). 9 Arkin (n. 24 Keirsey (2006). 17 Kasser (2002).). It also aligns with a key assumption of a popular counseling model. for example.org/wiki/Hedonic_treadmill. 16 Williamson (1992).S.org and have my life coaching and consulting profile posted there. 21 Several other authors have written more extensively on this topic. 2 1 . that may be applied to life coaching. Jackman-Wheitner. See.) 10 See. Keirsey (2006).and trust-related leadership behaviors. Gawain (1985). Roth (2006). 5 Versions of this framework have been popularized by others including Zig Ziglar and Dave Ellis. Per Corey (2005).wikipedia. originally published in 1978. 6 Dave Ellis utilized a similar analogy during a conference call of the International Coach Federation's Nonprofit and Social Action Coaching Special Interest Group. (1998). Gawain's brief discussion on this model. 7 Robinson (2003). 4 Gawain (1985). Winter (2005). Whitworth et al. Charland (1999) and Ellis (2002) also reference this model. it's likely that idealists have governed other nations. 23 Keirsey (2006). 22 Keirsey (2006). 11 Robin (1996).d. 18 Some of the world’s best-known leadership consulting firms. 8 For example. is the only country for which Keirsey has examined all the leaders. 3 Freedictionary. Arloski (2007). 19 While I am very fond of the site idealist. See. William Glasser's Reality Therapy/Choice Theory. and Williams & Davis (2002).d. evaluate vision. the Wikipedia entry http://en. including Development Dimensions International. I am not officially connected to the organization in any way. power and fun.Notes Roth (2006). for example. love/belonging. 12 Figley & Roop (2006). 15 Gottlieb (2006). L. I believe the U. was the earliest I located. for example. freedom. 20 There are some significant differences between the work of Myers and Keirsey–see Keirsey (2006) for a further explanation. Tieger & Barron-Tieger (2001). see Dominguez & Robin (1992).com (2008).R. 13 Seligman (n.
38 Leider (2004). see Adams (2001).” and Rachel M. 40 Elkin (2003). Sexual Politics of Meat by the same author. (2006). primary developer of Reality Therapy and Choice Theory. 42 Miller.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs. 34 Leider (2004). William Glasser. provided the helpful explanation upon which this illustration is based. 35 Freedictionary. 33 Gawain (1985). similarly proposes that we have physical survival needs.com/jo/. Fritz (1999). 47 Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (2007). MacNair presented on “Positions and Interests: Applying Integrative Conflict Resolution Skills to the Left-Wing/Right-Wing Divide. 31 Psychologist Michael Eysenck refers to this cycle as the “hedonic treadmill.com (2008). 27 Wikipedia (2007).vegsource. Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers are classified as Idealists. 39 Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey (2005). Williamson & Eakes (2006). 43 Institute for Life Coach Training (2006). or Jo Stepaniak's "Ask Jo" advice column for vegetarians and vegans at http://www. Personal communication. an instructor at the Institute for Life Coach Training.wikipedia. 36 Ellis & Lankowitz (1995). 29 Gottlieb (2007). 32 Robert Fritz has used this analogy.” 49 Paul (1987). See Keirsey (2006). Williamson & Eakes (2006).” and limited research by Robert Arkin (Ohio State University) and colleagues suggests that individuals do engage in more materialistic behavior when they’re insecure or uncertain about their futures. 28 Both Elkin (2003) and Gawain (1985) have written on this tendency. L. 45 If you’re interested in this topic. 41 Elkin (2003). 46 Covey (1989). 30 Adapted from Elkin (2003). power. C'deBaca.. 50 Charland (1999). 37 Jackman-Wheitner. Matthews & Wilbourne (n. Leider (2004). Daniel Mayton presented on “Talking to People Who Think You’re Wrong: Why You Should Start the Dialogue. see the Wikipedia entry http://en. 25 . freedom and fun. 44 Jim Vuocolo.d.).Coincidentally. 48 I had this realization in a workshop on political discourse at the 2005 Counselors for Social Justice and Psychologists for Social Responsibility conference. 26 For more information. and four psychological needs of love/belonging (also referred to as connecting).
2007. 81 Arbinger Institute (2002. Available at http://www. 68 Thanks to Melody Platz for this additional suggestion. 61 Hill (1960).Hall (2005). 76 Elkin (2003. 77 Gottlieb (2007). UrbanRevision. Gawain (1985). U. VIA Classification.). One such example. 60 Covey (1989).com website. 74 Bruce Elkin provided helpful coaching during this process. 70 Randall (2007).S. 64 Bolles (2003). 73 Ellis (2002).virtuesinaction. 82 Ellis (2002). Thanks to Walter Winch for pointing out the UrbanRevision. 78 Hill (1960).d. (2006). Senge (1990). cited elsewhere here. Dominguez & Robin (1992). Bureau of Labor Statistics (2007). Singer for this insight. 69 Hill (1960). 79 Thanks to Yale psychology professor Jerome L. 59 David (2003).S. Fritz (1999). Ellis (2002). 53 U. Department of Labor. a used version will not provide access to the online assessment unless the previous owner did not take the assessment. 71 Williamson & Eakes (2006).aspx?ContentID=44. 52 51 . n. 65 Jackman-Wheitner (2006) similarly emphasizes the importance of accepting yourself in her “Core Confidence Model. 75 Thanks to my former student Jim Basquil for this analogy. 83 Ellis (2002). 55 Virtues in Action Institute. see Elkin (2003). Williamson & Eakes (2006). 67 Elkin (2003). 2006). 80 For more detail.com (2007).org/index. Fritz (1999). is that of Henry Ford. 63 Because you must utilize a one-user code inside the book to access it. Csikszentmihalyi (1990). 62 Buckingham & Clifton (2001). 57 Kazdin (1994). 54 Thanks to Priority Two for this.” 66 Gawain (1985). 58 University of Pennsylvania. 72 Rosen (1982). 56 Buckingham & Clifton (2001).
86 Ellis (2002). Elkin compares the action phase to a sailboat “tacking” or zig-zagging to sail into a headwind. 111 Covey (1989). 101 See. 109 Covey (1989). 85 84 . Stoltz (1997). 93 Elkin (2003). 96 Williamson & Eakes (2006). Gawain (1985). Gawain (1985). 92 Elkin (2003). Fritz. KimseyHouse. Elkin (2003). 102 Gladstone (2007).” 99 Ellis (2002). & Sandahl (1998).Fritz (1999). 105 Pausch (2007. for example. 87 Elkin (2003). November). Keirsey (2006). 94 Thoreau (1854). 108 Winter (2005). 114 Adapted from sources including Arloski (2007). 98 Elkin. 100 Thanks to Marty Levine for his insight on this. 103 I do this to an extent when advertising my coaching services! If someone is currently in a problem-solving mindset. 95 Elkin. September). Gawain and Dyer all stress the importance of defining our ultimate destination while maintaining the ability to change course. 112 Pausch (2007. 107 Burns (1980). Williams & Davis (2002). 106 Burns (1980). then that’s where I need to meet them. 104 See. I recommend consulting their works if you seek additional ideas in this area. 113 Covey and Rettig have each written much more extensively on time management. for example. and Williamson and Eakes discuss this danger. 90 Elkin (2003). 88 Elkin (2003). Whitworth. Psychologist Leon Festinger was one of the pioneers on the topic of “cognitive dissonance. 110 Elkin (2003). 91 Thanks for Carnegie Mellon Heinz School professor Lowell Taylor for teaching this concept so well. 97 Carson (2003). 89 Ellis (2002). Glassner (1999). Fritz.
129 This is much different from the system I've seen in Europe that I actually like. in the case where an individual with exceptional wealth or power wealthy doesn't utilize their potential. Thanks to Noah Lewis for his thoughts on this. outspoken nonprofit professionals are increasingly questioning the current effectiveness of their own once-idealized sector. 130 Goldstein (2008). upon which Reality Therapy is based. Novak (2008). and this theme is also present in conflict negotiation literature. Covey (1989) notes that it is also possible to have a circle of influence that is actually larger than one's circle of concern. 136 Adams (2001) even lists “holier than thou” as a label commonly placed upon vegetarians. 119 Covey (1989). The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. 116 115 . 2006). 131 Sue & Sue (2003). 123 Thanks to Carnegie Mellon economics professors Linda Babcock and Lowell Taylor for stimulating some of my thinking in this area. but rather that this public exchange and many others are focused at a different level. During the 2008 campaigns. 137 Bennis (1997). 128 Ellis (2002). where you pay a small fee at the entrance in for a hired attendant who keeps everything tidy–but who allows you to go about your own business. 117 Covey (1989).. e. 125 Brooks (2007). 135 Arbinger Institute (2002. 127 Carnegie Mellon economics professor Linda Babcock has reported on her findings in works including Women Don’t Ask. 138 Baker (2008). See.g. 132 Dyer (2007). 140 I'm not suggesting that either of these candidates was ignoring vision entirely. Elkin (2003). 122 Gawain (1985) influenced my thinking here. 139 Thanks to Melody Platz for her insight here. 120 The observation that many individuals pursue their needs indirectly is also a core component of William Glasser's Choice Theory. 2006).Charland (1999). INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence (2007). 124 Post & Neimark (2007). candidates including John McCain outlined elements of vision on occasion. 126 Baker (2008). 134 Arbinger Institute (2002. 121 Covey (1989) includes this in his Seven Habits. 118 Gawain (1985). for example. 133 Coincidentally.
" but why use additional large words if we don't need to? 145 Cormier & Hackney (2005). 168 For more information on this. Gawain (1985). 158 Marano (2002). 161 Post & Neimark (2007).com. 154 Rettig (2006). The original edition of Gawain's book was published in 1979. 147 Rollnic & Miller (1995). for example. 143 Thanks to John McCarthy's counseling internship class for this analogy. 159 Thanks to Tom Matura for his ideas and insight here. 152 Gladwell (2002). see Breeze Harper's work at www.d. 160 Arloski (2007). 164 Kostigen & Rogers (2007). 165 Greger (2006)." 149 Hill (1960).141 142 This is paraphrased from MacNair (2005). 146 Cormier & Hackney (2005). 157 Thanks to Tom Matura for this analogy. 167 Greger (2006). Carol Adams raised some of these points during a presentation at the 2006 North American Vegetarian Society Conference. 155 Carson (2003). 148 Carol Adams also emphasizes that "we can't do someone else's homework for them. . 162 Ontario College of Family Physicians (2005). 153 Florida (2002).org.). 151 Krackhardt & Hanson (1993). Eisman (2006). 170 From James' biography at http://cgcareers.sistahveganproject. 150 Keener (2005). Robbins (2006).com. 156 Freedictionary. 144 The former is also called the "Transtheoretical Model of Change. have written an entire book on compassion fatigue as it pertains to professionals and volunteers involved in animal care. 166 Greger (2006). 163 Campbell & Campbell (2006). The lectures of Richard Florida and his colleagues at Carnegie Mellon's Heinz School also helped to clarify some of this information. University of Rhode Island Cancer Prevention Research Center (n. 169 Figley & Roop (2006). David Krackhardt's lectures at Carnegie Mellon's Heinz School also helped to clarify some of this information.
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This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?