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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!
” The things we value are the things that we most highly prize. as we’ll discuss below. However.” “be strong. a value is “a principle. Values drive much of what we do. Below are examples of values from the “Personal Values Card Sort. because I value a clean and safe environment. When someone else does not act in a manner that supports our values.NAKED IDEALISM 8. For example.com. and when we act out of line with this part of ourselves. we may feel disappointed or offended. they may or may not always be our values. do any stand out as being particularly important to you? . and in the public domain. For those of us involved in idealist work or hobbies. Naked idealism requires exposing and honoring our authentic self amidst a world that often encourages us to cover it up. we feel out of integrity.” “be well. Exposing Our Authentic Self: Values What values are According to Freedictionary. I experience this when I see someone littering. that we would have great difficulty living without. standard or quality considered worthwhile or desirable. As you skim over it.” created by faculty at the University of New Mexico. the things that sustain us. Only once we understand ourselves can we identify and powerfully pursue what’s most important to us.” It is derived from earlier words with meanings such as “be worth.42 We’ll be using this list in an exercise later. the causes with which we identify are probably closely linked to our values. creating personal fulfillment and changing the world for the better.
d. C’deBaca. 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.
justice. sustainability. and which are deeply ingrained in our nature. If we don’t consistently honor them in our lives and work. Chosen values: We also hold a number of consciously chosen values that we’ve adopted over the course of our lives. In the majority of cases. it’s easy to get these different levels confused with one another. For example. peace. we may benefit ourselves and the world by converting some of our “should” values to chosen values. Those of us involved in idealist professions often identify with a great number of lofty-sounding values–equality. we’re better off if we learn to devote less time and energy to these values.NAKED IDEALISM Each of us has a slightly different set of values. we probably prioritize them somewhat differently. Most of us have three different levels of values:43 Core values: First. so that we can focus upon our core and chosen values. while some may never become quite that important. we each have a small set of values that have always been important to us. I’ll discuss some of these in Part IV. If we’ve never examined our values in any depth. to name just a few–but it’s likely that some of these are genuinely more important to us. family or other external entities expect us to– even if we don’t truly prioritize them on a deeper level. Perhaps we didn’t hold them at an early age. however. as I grew older I learned more about the complex ways in which we’re connected to our planet and other forms of life. Ecology is a chosen value for me. while others just seem like socially acceptable things to support. and I’ll also share some of my own struggles with this. and even if we have a set that is similar to someone else’s. but they became important to us later in light of new knowledge or experiences. freedom. they’re just someone else’s. and aspects of work that require little creativity can become dull for me after a short time. Some of these may come to rank among the values most important to us. With a few certain types of values. They’ve probably been there since a very early age. I have valued creativity since a very young age. . we will likely feel great discontentment. They’re still values. “Should” values: Most of us also have a number of values that we strive to exhibit simply because we feel that society.
“Chemistry and Physics. Each spring I interview Yale applicants in Pittsburgh who are unable to visit the campus in Connecticut.” They may talk for five minutes without mentioning anything remotely related to math or science. this person is likely to struggle with what they should value and what they do value. Perhaps someone believes that they shouldn’t have sex before getting married.. As society delivers very strong messages regarding sexuality. Values we seek to express. but they are in a sexually active relationship that fulfills many of their needs for intimacy. “Should” values can also impact our most intimate relationships. or project outward and into the world through our actions. to make us fulfilled. and another who earned his M. “Dancing and playing the guitar.PART II: BEING NAKED I’ve become acutely aware of the power of “shoulds” through one of my volunteer activities.D. 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. Are they acting against their core values? It’s possible. they sometimes provide conflicting responses to questions. Better late than never. such conflicts may take on a deep spiritual nature. and seek to obtain from our environment and people around us. Although it’s normal for high school seniors to possess significant uncertainty regarding what career they wish to pursue.” A few minutes later. some are examples . “What fields do you plan to pursue?” may yield the response. but may soon return to get a business degree. or who wish to have an additional perspective added to their application. “What do you most enjoy doing?” may yield. 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. Depending upon their beliefs. The price of this can be very high–I’m reminded of recent conversations with one friend who earned a science Ph. and has considered “shifting gears” to get a law degree. friendship and other things they value highly.D.g. The “sneaky shoulds” plague each of us in different ways. but still very costly. loved).
This can be a cause of burnout for many in idealist professions. 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 . but it may pertain only to my expression of it toward others. I may place a high priority on tolerance and acceptance. if I value honesty. for example. but I may not place a high value on knowing others (the expressed form of this value). Suppose.NAKED IDEALISM of values expressed toward the world (e. On the other hand.. I may place a high value on being known by others (similar to obtaining fame or popularity).g. nurturance). Perhaps I’m very thick-skinned and care little how much others generally tolerate and accept me. As Jim Vuocolo explains. and I will probably also value the expression of honesty through my own behavior. and some can be either (e. and another pointing out and away from you for values you seek to express.g. I may be somewhat of a “loner” and have few intimate relationships in my personal life. I may place a high value on receiving honest treatment from others. Going in the other direction. but the nature of a task may keep us from obtaining something else we value. simply picture an arrow pointing in and toward you for what you value from the world.. honesty. Why is it important to discern between these two “directions” of values? Idealists often devote ourselves to causes where we can express our values. even if I enjoy public recognition.44 Figure 4: We Must Often Discern Between Two Directions of Values For example. loving).
45 However. but only one of these two areas is addressed by the work. we may need to make significant adjustments to our social networks and closely examine how we prioritize our values. Some authors use the term virtues to refer to expressed values. it would not have catered to what I value obtaining (being immersed in nature regularly). Don’t be concerned if you have more expressed values versus things you seek to obtain. After we identify those values we hold most dearly. I now immerse myself in nature by cycling nearby trails or jogging in a nearby nature reserve a few times per week.PART II: BEING NAKED into the world. we need to clarify a small but important bit of terminology. 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. However. sustainability. but with tasks that don’t involve frequent conflict with others. who often choose this lifestyle because we place a high value upon health. a few authors have chronicled the relationship struggles of vegetarians and vegans. we can develop a sense of whether each value is something we seek to express and obtain. harmony. If I also place a high value on having peace in my own life. environmental sustainability). 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. it’s fine to blend the two directions. expressing these values through our behavior can elicit unexpected defensive reactions from others–often those closest to us. and the environment. I didn’t pursue the opportunity much further. or whether it’s one-directional. I might need to consider a job that addresses the same cause. While the job catered to values I desired to express (e.g. life. Finally.. 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. Living our values when they fall outside the societal norm can create internal values conflicts. We each place a different emphasis upon each “direction” of values. I engage in advocacy work putting me in frequent contact with people who strongly oppose my efforts. For the purpose of initially identifying our values so that we can develop a meaningful life purpose and visions. or vice-versa. As you explore the values assessment tools in the upcoming sections. If we have a strong need for harmony and respect from others. I express environmental sustainability through many of my daily lifestyle choices and my writing. For example. this type of interaction may drain a lot of my energy. while at . For example. before moving on.
Values help us stay on track and identify what is most important to us. If we know how such opportunities connect to our own values. suppose that Johnny Johnson wants a family. being in touch with our values helps us to live more intentionally and powerfully. another to stay late at work. To avoid confusion. and internalized values. In the span of a week. by their environment. but aren’t pursuing wholeheartedly. priority core values versus our lowerpriority “should” values. “Reactive people are driven by feelings. we can more effectively set personal boundaries. I largely avoid use of the word virtue here. he realizes that the high value he places upon intimacy and stability is conflicting with the high value he places upon adventure and change. Prioritizing our values helps us make otherwise difficult decisions as we actively pursue our visions. Clarifying that some of my highest-priority values are health and the environment shaped the “healthy and sustainable world” component of my purpose. Proactive people are driven by values–carefully thought about. For example. another to attend an environmental event. by conditions. we might have a request to march in a peace rally. due to the appearance that we need to give up one thing we value to gain another. Why values are so important As with purpose.NAKED IDEALISM least one uses this term to refer to strengths. This is similar to the value conflicts (obtained versus expressed) described earlier. we can prioritize and say “yes” only to those most important to us. In articulating his values. and so on. Stephen Covey explains. selected. and to create visions in line with our authentic self. but can’t figure out why he vacillates between excitement and fear. by circumstances.”46 Values may even help us to hone our life purpose. If we’re aware of our own higherValues can help us remove our facades. Gaining one had seemed to mean giving . Awareness of our values can also help us to resolve ambivalence about things we want.
but both are important to him. and share resources to change the world. but also actively and openly listening to the other person. below are the seven principles affirmed and promoted by Unitarian Universalists. but is merely interested in defending and conveying their own stance. and compassion in human relations. often equates to two monologues where little learning or true exchange occurs. Acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual growth. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. Such communication of values can unite large numbers of diverse individuals.PART II: BEING NAKED up the other. and justice for all. One or both individuals may learn and grow from the conversation. in contrast. but may factor prominently into the language. enabling them to take collective action on larger causes. Justice.47 As with other communities I’ve participated in or observed. and literature of the community. Each may as well be . Finally. discovering both commonalities and differences. or he might seek a more adventurous career. enhance one another’s lives. The goal of world community with peace. Neither person is really open to the ideas of the other. he may find other ways to fulfill his needs and pursue all of what he wants. keeping our values in mind enables us to dialogue rather than debate with others regarding our beliefs. As one example. goals. liberty. which I strive to apply in my own life. the embedded values drive the activities and priorities of the organization: • • • • • • • The inherent worth and dignity of every person. Alongside getting married. and perhaps deepening their relationship. equity. With this additional understanding. Johnny and his partner might make plans to travel more. Values can help to connect communities of idealists. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process. not only sharing their own ideas. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.48 A dialogue is an exchange in which both people are fully communicating in an interactive fashion. allowing them to bond via their commonalities. A debate. These may not always be explicitly labeled as values.
We’ll discuss this more in Part IV. George. our best understanding is that he meant to kick out to both sides simultaneously in somewhat of a “split” fashion. he ended up placing his left foot directly into my front spokes. It did make for an interesting walk home. despite my front wheel taking on an irreparable “V” shape. slightly ahead of both our front wheels. Even the most intelligent people do this on occasion. often eager to show off what he had learned in Taekwondo lessons. To date. When I’m gliding along a trail or a relatively quiet road. but George’s mind was in other places. Surprisingly. where it obviously does not belong. with just a few feet between us. I enjoy the feeling of forward motion combined with the ability to observe a great deal around me. inserting “should” values in their place? The same thing that happens when someone sticks one of their feet between our bicycle wheel spokes. that are aligned with what I value–it’s exciting to progress toward a destination and to enjoy the journey. Tim and I were pedaling side-by-side down a lightly traveled city street. When I was 16. suddenly riding between us and pedaling slightly ahead. The resulting conflict will slow our forward momentum or promptly stop us altogether. and it motivated me to begin considering the merits of a bicycle helmet. Real-life lesson: A foot between the bike wheel spokes What happens if we remain largely unaware of the things we really value. none of us suffered serious injuries. however. “Double kick!” Heated interrogations following the chaos failed to yield a logical explanation of George’s exact intent. sending me careening over the handlebars to meet the hard pavement. Instead.49 This usually helps neither of them in achieving their visions. It’s similar to other points in life when I’m engaged in activities that I really love. a friend going through the “show off” phase of adolescence illustrated how abruptly a gentle cruise can come to a halt.NAKED IDEALISM speaking to themselves. followed closely behind. “Check this out!” George shouted. Tim and I were discussing something relatively profound. and they are not likely to advance their relationship in a positive way. I have loved cycling much of my life. .
Exercise: Clarify Your Top Values Option 1: Go through the table of values with a highlighter. and then revisit the exercise to see if you obtain similar or identical results. just let the results sit for a few days. And keeping this story in mind as an analogy. 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. Clarifying our top values Because this can be a breeze for some people and quite a challenge for others. and struggling with how to weigh very similar values against one another. for example. Just don’t let him near a bicycle. garnering high levels of respect from both patients and peers. I offer several options for identifying your top 10 list of values. discussing your results with a friend who is an excellent listener can be useful. A simple way to begin identifying your core values is to review the table of values listed earlier. .PART II: BEING NAKED That once-daredevil friend now conducts surgical procedures requiring extremely high levels of steadiness and precision with microscopic equipment. or family and intimacy. Highlight those that are important to you. If you find it very difficult the first time. Even if you don’t have a life coach. changes in your energy levels as you speak about different values. try to keep your “shoulds” out of your spokes so they don’t stop you in your tracks. and so on. You may find yourself questioning how you define some of the terms. Note that you may be able to represent several closely related concepts with one word if they have very similar meanings for you. This might be the case. Write in any additional ones that come to mind but don’t appear in the list. They may notice patterns in what you’re communicating. with change and adventure. He’s very good at his work.
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. and note values that come to mind.” “important to me. Consider additional past times in your life if necessary. Next. • Start by sorting the cards into three piles labeled “very important to me. Continue this process until you have a list of your 10 top values. go to casaa. You can also utilize a technique similar to one suggested for discovery of life purpose.” and download both. repeat the sorting process using only the cards from the “very important to me” pile.edu. set aside all the values cards except those you placed in the “very important to me” pile. this will leave an even smaller number in the “very important to me” pile. Again set aside all the values cards except those you placed in the “very important to me” pile. The exercise includes a cut-out card for each of the values listed above.” Note that the card set contains three cards with these labels. scroll down to “values card sort” and “values card sort instructions. • • • • Option 3: Revisit peak experiences based on values rather than purpose. 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.unm. Look for any patterns. . along with a brief definition for that value. When you’ve finished.” and “not important to me. Repeat this whittling down process until you have 10 or fewer cards in the “very important to me” pile. After sorting.
but they also ask those around you to form a “complete circle” of input: your boss.PART II: BEING NAKED Option 4: Revisit your thinking following times of loss. and other individuals. This is similar to a technique that many human resources departments utilize for employee development. frustration gave way to new perspective: she gained clarity on what was most important to her. she’s now very excited to be headed in a new direction. e. Ask those who know you best what values seem to be important to you. but lost most of her material belongings. What realizations. a college friend. Rebecca is a participant in the Coro Center for Civic Leadership. including the importance of community and the impact that music and other arts had made in her life. with a desire to promote the arts as a vital component of education. whose mission is to “prepare individuals for effective and ethical leadership in the public affairs arena. Sometimes the most adverse situations can provide the strongest clues about our values. 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. culture. horrified to find her apartment building ablaze. she shared her tale of how sudden tragedy altered her life trajectory. and compare their responses to your own thoughts. co-workers.. waiting to be rediscovered. Option 5: Ask your friends. known as a 360-degree feedback survey–they not only ask for your own opinions of your strengths and potential areas for improvement. sometimes others have a more objective view of us than we do. Consider the times in your life when you’ve suffered a significant loss or have adapted to serious adversity. as well as values that are once again stuck in the background.g. If you conduct your own informal 360-degree values feedback exercise. In the days that followed. As mentioned earlier. a coworker.” After I gave a presentation on some of this book’s concepts to the Coro Fellows. Despite her previous loss. if any. She soon decided to leave her job in market research and apply to the Coro program. try to ask several individuals who represent different settings and types of relationships. and sustainable development. and a relative. One night Rebecca awakened abruptly. . She escaped uninjured. a neighbor.
and in the same order along the top row so that each value is alongside the same letter in both cases. you may simply be able to look over your list of top values and rank them in order from most to least important. • In the top grid. The basic idea is to get a reasonable picture of which ones are the most important of all.com under Books/Naked Idealism (use the password “authentic” to access the downloadable tools link). If that occurs.NAKED IDEALISM Ranking the top 10 things we value After you’ve identified 10 or fewer values. I do recommend eventually spending a little more time on this if you haven’t already. Also write the values next to the same letters in the second grid at the bottom of the page. The second two options below are designed to help deal with this. if “world peace” is in the C box in the left column. However. If you’re looking for a quick and dirty approach to begin with. the second step is to rank these top 10 in relation to one another. 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. or if you’ve already given significant thought to this topic in the past. . to ensure that you’re honoring them as consistently as possible. Option 2: Utilize the Values Ranking Grid on the following pages. Exercise: Rank Your Top Values Option 1: Simply look at them. This may be a bit more challenging. don’t spend too much time fretting over something like which should be ranked fifth and which sixth in the case of a tie. as some of them may have roughly equal levels of importance to you. it should also appear in the C box in the top row. write in each of your top 10 values once along the left-hand column. For example. While in a different format.
Thus. followed by purpose. go back and see which of the two items won when they were directly compared to each other.PART II: BEING NAKED • Then. Enter each value’s total “wins” into the middle column of the bottom grid. Fun came in last because it won only twice. you can download an electronic version of the below grid that automatically tallies the total “wins” for each value.com under Books/Naked Idealism. growth and genuineness tied for 5th because they both won a total of four times. we could bump growth’s ranking down to 6th to be a bit more accurate. Those with the most points have the highest rankings. for each blank white cell in the top grid. compare the corresponding value in the left column to the corresponding value in the top row. so the additional amount of accuracy you obtain in such cases may not be worth your effort. and so on. However. Please note that I’m unable to provide support for use of this free tool. For example. this can get a bit tricky if you have a three-way tie. count up the total number of times each value “won” over the other values. 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. Each value in your top 10 list will be compared to each and every other value once. • • Option 3: Download an automated version of the Values Ranking Grid. but you’re welcome to download it for your own use at idealistcoach. If you want to go a step further and break these ties. If your computer can open Microsoft Excel files and you are comfortable with basic spreadsheet data entry. I originally created it for other coaches to use with their clients. but genuineness beat growth when the two were compared directly. It does not include the optional “tie breaker” step. In the completed example below. . 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. Use the password “authentic” to access the downloadable tools link. This is equivalent to the number of times each letter now appears in the grid.
i. f. a. g. j. g. f. e. a. e. j. h. c. Total “wins” above Rank j. . b. c. e.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. i. h. i. Value a. g. b. h. d. d. f. d. c.
fun . health f. ecology h b h h h h h a. creativity h. 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. genuineness h. world peace a b j j e f g h j c. growth b. ecology i. growth f. inner peace d. world peace Value a. creativity e. genuineness h. genuineness j. inner peace d. purpose b. family g. health c. growth f. creativity e. inner peace d. purpose b. health c. purpose e.PART II: BEING NAKED Figure 6: Sample Completed Values Ranking Grid and Scoring Form (make-believe scores & sample values) Values Ranking Grid g. fun j. fun j. family g. ecology i. family a.
forth and back. As noted earlier. or . and the fact that professions challenging the status quo are often underappreciated by society (and thus lower paying). “What the world needs is people who have come alive. Both of these individuals currently belong to a community that prides itself on doing a great deal of good in the world. The truth is that we may be pulling energy from areas to which we truly are committed on a deeper level. but this is likely amplified for many idealists due to our desire to live authentically. We may choose to remain in a low-paying profession if it provides us with many things we value. often feeling that poverty is being thrust upon us. she explained. Another. for fear that they wouldn’t be ethically admirable.” Money: A value of particular interest for idealists Money causes a great deal of internal conflict for many people. we each have several levels of values which likely include a number of superficial “shoulds. where we could be making an even greater difference. observed that they seemed to be somewhat “devoid of self” and overly focused on impact upon the external world. 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. commenting on the examples of purpose I provided. It is important for us to recognize and resolve any issues we may have surrounding money-related thinking. Recall Thurman’s suggestion.” We may have difficulty admitting that we are not deeply committed to some of the causes or values that society wants us to pursue. seemed to contradict my earlier statements about fulfilling one’s self before reaching out to the world. This.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. meaningful work and low pay aren’t necessarily connected. We may feel a sense of financial martyrdom. I’ve experienced this a number of times. As Hillary Rettig emphasizes in The Lifelong Activist. We vacillate back and forth. but at the same time feel that higher-paid professions we’ve explored aren’t quite as good a fit for us. so that we may act with more integrity and impact. and they offered quite different perspectives surrounding the same concern. choosing a career that changes the world and choosing to live in poverty are actually two separate choices.
S. Soon. we can consider some of the beliefs we grew up with surrounding money. This became very apparent when I was awarded a full scholarship to Andover and was later accepted to Yale. We’re told on one hand that working hard for our money is a noble thing. but instead choose to act in service of visions larger than we are. we’re often raised with mixed messages regarding money: we’re told on one hand that money is evil. we often don’t even realize that we have adopted these assumptions. It’s likely that some of them conflicted. we may have adopted the widespread societal assumption that work is tied to personal achievement. My family. If we spend time in a profession that pays very little money. Conflicts in the money arena may stem from several sources. and helpless when we don’t. we may feel that relying upon (and thereby supporting) the established economic system contradicts our attempts to change the world. by living upon goods that are discarded by businesses and consumers. For one. We are no longer a victim of external forces. If the latter is the case. e. So how can we start to resolve some of these issues? To begin.g. This can lead us into the backwards “having-doing-being” pattern. which then leads us to the assumption that a primary purpose of work is to “get ahead” as individuals. they also communicated the ways in which money was highly valued. never quite happy. many individuals have even attempted complete economic independence from the existing system. 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. such as love and belonging. they joked about how “someday Dave will be able to afford . and that our relatives and friends weren’t even conscious of the messages they were communicating. often conveyed the “money is at the root of all evil” opinion.50 As Charland explains. Furthermore.PART II: BEING NAKED we might determine that we still need more money to create what’s important to us. In fact. we may quickly shift gears and pursue gratification through rapid financial gain–even if it means doing something unfulfilling. whose income was well below the U. Additionally. Consequently.. However. and then find ourselves unfulfilled. They wisely communicated to me that there were many other types of wealth in life. and on the other hand that money is required to have influence in the world. average. We simply bounce back and forth. we may feel guilty when we do have money. then we must act accordingly.
NAKED IDEALISM to buy us all vacations. 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. 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. they have rarely raised their salary over the years. Is it really that we’re trying to be generous and do a good thing. To worsen matters. I heard tales of leaders who created negative circumstances for entire organizations by failing to advocate for themselves financially. but there are also many who utilize wealth to do great things. Currently facing many nonprofits is the issue of long-term executive directors who have continually “martyred” themselves. 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. I encountered several individuals who frequently complained about their lot in life. This may exacerbate the major leadership shortage expected among the nonprofit sector within the next two decades. The boards may have exceptional difficulty finding talented new directors for these organizations. We can also look at how our own “selfless” attitudes toward money may inadvertently harm others. another piece is whether our spending aligns with what we value. In boarding school and college.” (They may still be waiting a while for that!) While much of this was in fun. Examining our values. While working in non-profit and academic sector organizations. and wish to be a leader. 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. We need to be very honest with ourselves about why we do or don’t like money. there will always be individuals who horde money and abuse it. it delivered a message–and one that was quite contradictory to those I had received previously. Nearing retirement. 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. . don’t contribute to a “resource hole” due to your own attitudes about money. Sure. 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. because they must first raise funds for significant salary increases.51 If you have a cause you care strongly about.
if we value having power and influence in the world. Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez describe a nine-step model for “personal financial transformation. For example. Once we adjust job earnings for commuting time. and how we might begin to lead a life that’s less driven by money itself and more by our purpose and values. then we may wish to get rid of a cluttered house that’s larger than we need. given that each person’s wants are different. 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. and so on. and adjust our spending and earning goals accordingly. For example. and one of our strengths is that we’re very entrepreneurial. 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. work clothing. but after adjusting for the above. we may initially believe that our big-screen television is costing us 10 days of our life energy. We may need more money to do what’s . we gain a different sense of how much time and energy we’re sacrificing. stressrelated illness. the role it plays in our life.PART II: BEING NAKED strengths. Then we can more honestly assess the extent to which our time and energy expenditures align or misalign with our values. we determine that it’s really costing us 20 days. As Elkin warns. If we decide that we value having freedom to move and travel. 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. Robin and Dominguez recommend asking questions such as the following: • • • Did I receive fulfillment. and determining how much life energy we’re trading for various possessions. There’s no magic formula. and visions more closely may help us to determine the role we may wish money to play–or not play–in our lives. then we may consider ways in which we can make more money and then utilize that money to help others. satisfaction.
634 $2. or things you’d like to have more of. In contrast. or a new hairdo? Jot down a few rough estimates. or on items that have little or no relationship to your dreams? • • .. to have each of these things? Do you currently place more value on your dreams. a meal out.886 $1..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.130 $16. 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. a few smaller-butsignificant things (e. and a few in between (e..767 $2. a new outfit.NAKED IDEALISM really important to us in the world.g. cosmetics. try the following: • • Write down descriptions of five or six things you’d very much like to create in your life. Exercise: What Are Your Dreams Worth? Consider the annual amount of money that the average U. What is it worth to you.S. in monetary terms. Your list can include a few really big things (e. or we may find that we already have enough to live the life we really want.344 $1. four hours to engage in your favorite hobby each week). two new staff in your organization). what value do you place on having a sense of life direction and fulfillment? To estimate a portion of this.g. an environmentally sustainable home in a culturally diverse neighborhood).g.
Consequently. Later. and while consulting with a leadership development firm. Exposing Our Authentic Self: Strengths Before and after realizing one’s strengths What strengths are On our way to becoming naked idealists. Freedictionary. a third part of our authentic self we must expose is our strengths. during a “Finding Your Gifts” workshop taught by a local nonprofit group. 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. I re-identified some of my strengths while pursuing counselor training and life coach training. as they suggested that some major life changes might be in order.” We will go much . 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.54 However.PART II: BEING NAKED 9. an asset. a source of power or force.
talents. we have to put them to use in the world–we have to share them with others. They define strengths as “consistent near perfect performance in an activity. this might include knowledge of cultural and communication subtleties. Skills. Buckingham and Clifton offer a more exact description based upon survey research. I suggested that some of them seemed to be hoarding their strengths like unopened gifts. however. skills. When counseling previously incarcerated men. Talents are innate. In Now. Buckingham and Clifton believe that exceptional strengths usually result from focusing efforts where we already have talent. Nobody can enjoy them. To do this exceptionally well.” To actually create a strength. Knowledge. feeling or behavior. In order for them to be an asset.” The same holds true for all of us. In this case. or facts and lessons learned. “It’s hard to play and have fun when all your presents are still wrapped up.NAKED IDEALISM further in life if we are familiar with our strengths alongside our purpose and our values. as they all have to do with our abilities. and gifts interchangeably. along with management skills.” Their definition includes three components: • • • Talents. or steps of an activity. While we can become good at many things through effort. or naturally occurring patterns of thought. one must perfect the wooing talent by adding knowledge and skills through education and practice. Discover Your Strengths. The former are more likely to be key assets we can leverage in . while knowledge and skills can be learned and developed through experience. • We often use the terms strengths. one must initially possess a naturally occurring talent they label as wooing. which is “to be drawn toward strangers and to enjoy the challenge of making a connection with them. The important distinction to make is between the more innate or “natural feeling” abilities and those that still feel difficult despite our hard work. 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.
external or internal.” While different than Buckingham and Clifton’s system. keeping the innate versus learnable components separate in our minds will be useful as we look to build our strengths down the road. or they may span several.PART II: BEING NAKED achieving our visions. and its accompanying book is entitled Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. Our top strengths may cluster within one or two categories. these categories can simplify our thinking and help us to see patterns in our assets. 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.” Transcendence: “Strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning. 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. One other system that illustrates the concept of strengths is worth mentioning. It identifies 24 strengths organized across the following six categories:55 • • • • • • Wisdom and knowledge: “Cognitive strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge. As you begin to consider what your own strengths may be.” Justice: “Civic strengths that underlie healthy community life. Also.” Temperance: “Strengths that protect against excess.” Courage: “Emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition. many of us spend more time trying to correct our weaknesses or flaws than we do capitalizing upon our strengths. recognizing our strengths is vital for a number of reasons.” Humanity: “Interpersonal strengths that involve tending and befriending others. A strength identification tool we’ll discuss later is the “Values in Action” survey.56 However.
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. Many organizational consultants draw upon a body of techniques known as Appreciative Inquiry. According to positive psychology researchers. The degree to which we recognize and put into play our strengths determines our level and stability of contentment. Strengths help us to determine the best ways to achieve our desired results– i.NAKED IDEALISM behave in a way that utilizes our strengths. we are happiest and most fulfilled when we shape our lives and work so that we are utilizing our strengths.. 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. even in times of struggle.57 Similar techniques apply to adults.59 Prior to determining the action steps for achieving our goals.”58 As noted earlier. This involves looking at what is going right with an organization. Various “human transformation” fields including coaching. placing us in a state of “flow. if we wish to generate fifty new clients for our consulting business and we’re highly talented at writing. and building upon existing strengths. counseling and social work seem to be headed in this direction. we might create articles as part of our . We can borrow a technique from organizational strategic planning known as a SWOT analysis. 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.e. and the rapidly expanding field of positive psychology is built upon the foundation of strengths.
if we have strengths that complement those of competitors. 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. Decades ago. Napoleon Hill chronicled highly successful individuals’ use of such groups in Think and Grow Rich. we may also decide to hire a web designer. 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. When we’ve determined we can’t go it alone.60 and this may be accomplished through working with a “mastermind group” of individuals with complementary sets of abilities and expertise. When utilizing our strengths. if website design is a weakness for us and we discover the potential threat that three competitors are ramping up their online marketing efforts. Nobody is good at everything. This may be done formally or informally.61 By surrounding themselves with people who were much more skilled and accomplished in specific areas. Continuing the previous example. Achieving the greatest levels of success often requires a large degree of interdependence. Combined with the connection of a common vision that’s larger than we are. The more complex the task we seek to accomplish. Or. 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. this can help us to achieve greater success.” .PART II: BEING NAKED marketing strategy. we can better determine when to recruit the assistance or expertise of others. and it may range from only two people to several people. Like values. the broader a set of skills and expertise we’ll need. we might even consider partnering with one of them and sharing resources to bolster both our online presences. knowing our strengths can help us to attract other resources for achieving our visions. strengths may also help us to define our life purpose. We decide that this can leverage the opportunity that an acquaintance is launching a new magazine based upon our specialty area.
browsing the newspaper. We heard of only one rumored “dangerous pet escape” during our time there. Because the bird had a broken wing. one might think he owned a miniature dog. Above us dwelled Reese. Jen and I lived in an apartment building with a diverse array of neighbors. flooding the stairwell and requiring police intervention to open the door. On the first floor just below us resided couple Rob and Don. and placed small dishes of food and water on the floor. The night we moved in. . a meticulously groomed. every day and a Reiki practitioner who enjoyed dressing up in kimonos adorned with flowers. and above him in the attic apartment was our quiet. a six-foot-tall masseuse who would often lounge on the front stoop wearing nothing but boxers.C. a city trash collector who kept an alligator in the aquarium of his small apartment. Below Jermaine lived our resident habitual door slammer. a forgetful 60-something grey-haired retiree with fading naval tattoos. We learned of his business when he left his bathtub water running one day. Reese simply placed a one-foot-high divider in the doorway to confine it to the living room. seldom-seen marijuana growing entrepreneur. In Baltimore. and lived with a small bird that hobbled about his living room floor. Despite the vastly different dress styles. lived in the rear of the first floor. along with a video collection rivaling that of a nearby rental store. dog-bird. suit-clad accountant who commuted to D. He played the koto on occasion. Ted also enjoyed playing music. even though he had apparently stopped tuning his guitar and piano some years ago. As to our knowledge. Ted. Earning part of his rent by serving as the building’s unofficial maintenance person. this had no connection to the plight of Reese’s dog-bird. Upon entering his apartment without seeing the cage or the bird itself. Oops. It nearly brought tears to our eyes. & 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. he sat in our dining room serenading us as he strummed his guitar. they generally seemed to get along well.NAKED IDEALISM Real-life lesson: An alligator. In the rear of the third floor lived Jermaine.
Jen and I ended up living there for four years with few problems. As the unofficial maintenance manager. The average usually kept us comfortable on the second floor. he held the only key. and kept track of unfamiliar cars and people in the area. they made our living situation much more pleasant. because I was good at gardening and enjoyed it. Don was around much of the day as well. the rent for our cozy little apartment never rose above the original $340.PART II: BEING NAKED We rapidly learned to get along with the neighbors. Reese seemed to know many of the neighbors from sunning himself on the front stoop. Reese negotiated with them to keep it relatively high so his half-bare massage clients wouldn’t become cold on the third floor. 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. He informed us of potential neighborhood security concerns and relevant news. Rob and Don controlled the thermostat for the entire front of the building. However. Additionally. . To begin with. because they liked the heat low due to living right above the furnace. He could appear slightly threatening in his kimono when he really put his mind to it. despite the area having its share of issues facing many urban neighborhoods “in transition. everyone utilized their strengths and interests to help others in an almost “unspoken code. with most utilities included. Even though his piano and guitar were quite out of tune. but we still had to visit them on occasion to request a change of temperature. Ted’s music frequently added a welcoming atmosphere to the first floor as we entered the building. and helped to keep the building secure. I renovated and maintained the small area in front of the building for several years. he maintained a keen awareness of the functioning of the building.” During that time. Additionally. we had to consult with Ted whenever we needed access to the basement storage. This normally worked out. possibly because we rarely had to contact the landlord for anything. due to his age and frailty. his maintenance work was generally limited to sweeping the stairs and changing the hallway light bulbs on occasion. Even though many of these examples may seem minor. Because of this interdependent arrangement. often reporting issues to the landlord before anyone else–including Ted–spotted them. Therefore.” This often happened automatically.
NAKED IDEALISM Identifying our strengths As with purpose and values. a few informal techniques are available for identifying strengths. Exercise: Identify Your Strengths Option 1: Identify peak strength experiences. but with a slightly different focus: • Look back at some of the high points or “peak experiences” of your life. For example. what strengths or abilities do you feel you were exhibiting? • In doing this. it is important to consider whether you had a peer group with exceptionally high or low levels of strength in the same areas. I recommend trying one of the more informal “self-identification” exercises alongside a more formal assessment for comparison and contrast. This first informal approach is very similar to those recommended for purpose and values. I then underestimated my talents and became less motivated for some time. and 2) doing something that seemed to “come naturally” in some way (either by your own judgment or through feedback from others). While the definitions of strength vary slightly depending upon which method you utilize. you’ll gain at least a general idea of yours regardless. I exhibited a talent for music composition at a young age. This might cause you to overestimate or underestimate your own potential. as noted earlier. Write a paragraph or two describing what you were doing. Returning to Buckingham and Clifton’s definition. several structured assessments for this purpose already exist. Relying too extensively upon any one opinion or tool can be risky. I hadn’t developed my talents into the same level of strengths as many of my peers had. In your own words. Because strengths are central to many self-development approaches. Have you underestimated yourself? . this time defined by when you were 1) enjoying what you were doing. but was later surrounded by peers who had taken formal music performance lessons for years.
Another way to identify your strengths is to review your past. If you don’t. even if in your current wisdom you recognize that your goal may have been incongruent with your values. For me. the attention of an applauding crowd may have been what made it a success. it may have been the sense of teamwork you experienced from your band members. Revisiting past successes also gives us confidence to move on to greater challenges. 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. . even if you’re unable to take the online assessments. but remember very different aspects.PART II: BEING NAKED Option 2: Identify past successes and the strengths used to accomplish them. and relatively easy to obtain if you have internet access. You may still benefit from reading one of the books referenced below. For example. Recall the earlier example of the man who. and identifying why they were important to us can provide additional clues about our values. he agreed. As for more structured and scientific approaches. despite having incredible difficulty climbing even one flight of stairs. and for you. and instead of focusing on the doing. This. had traveled up and down a snowcovered hill at least a dozen times to pursue his drug of choice. you and I might both recount successful performances from a school talent show. focus on the endpoints or results: • • • When were you the most successful? At those points. then stick with the above options. exhibited exceptional persistence that he could apply to more desirable ends. two options described below are free or reasonably low-cost. Option 3: Take a formal strengths assessment.
.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 . you can take a number of assessments free of charge. providing additional clarification...’ You are the kind of person who loves to peer over the horizon..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.” Futuristic: “‘Wouldn’t it be great if. the site of Martin Seligman. they request demographic information and permission to utilize your results in a research database. but I found them sufficient to provide a basic idea.. In return.63 Its results provide a few paragraphs describing each of your top five strengths.com.. Their instrument is based upon a different set of research and theory than the StrengthsFinder.. The descriptions of each strength are only a few sentences long.” Strategic: “The Strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route.. but wanted another opinion on. The Future fascinates you.. and the book provides additional ideas for utilizing and developing them. There. Another strengths assessment option is available at authentichappiness. including both short and long versions of the VIA (Values in Action) Signature Strengths Survey.. 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. This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity.” • • These descriptions complemented some of the discoveries I made through coaching and career counseling. below are partial descriptions of some of the top five strengths it identified for me: • Ideation: “You are fascinated by ideas. and has been upgraded to a second version. too. To give an example of the types of results the assessment provides..yours is the kind of mind that is always looking for connections. They also confirmed some other hunches I already had.They can energize others.. Discover Your Strengths... a foremost researcher in the field of positive psychology.62 It is designed to identify the “talent” component of strengths per Buckingham and Clifton’s definition above.
those we can utilize in a variety of settings.. while providing additional perspective. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible. ingenuity. “Fairness.64 These can be key in finding a career or job that fits us. and originality: “Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. equity.” for example.. create a life coaching practice. and consider additional options for future endeavors. Below are examples of some of my top strengths from that instrument: • • Love of learning: “You love learning new things. strengths.” Fairness. and justice: “Treating all people fairly is one of your abiding principles.” • • These seemed to mesh with the results of the StrengthsFinder survey.” Curiosity and interest in the world: “You are curious about everything. some from those lists. and you find all subjects and topics fascinating.. Confirming my strengths provided me with additional motivation to create this book. i..” Creativity. Utilizing the term skills somewhat interchangeably with gifts.e. whether in a class or on your own. ..PART II: BEING NAKED Happiness for additional detail. and justice. equity. he lists 246 “skills as verbs.. to provide the basic idea. and talents. You are always asking questions.” You can also find “job-seeker action verbs” on career sites such as Quintessential Careers (quintcareers. 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. Bolles highlights the importance of identifying transferable skills. does have a much more values-based tone than the results from Buckingham and Clifton’s tool. You do not let your personal feelings bias your decisions about other people..com). Below are a dozen.
g.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. i. for example. then you may need a career that provides you with variety. Bolles suggests that we also think about where we most enjoy utilizing them. keep in mind which of these task types you’re good at–and which you also enjoy. For example. payroll..) that keep the organization running. operating and handling) While some jobs and activities cross multiple categories. mentoring and supervising) Things (e.. he notes that we can group skills into three broad categories according to what we like to work with: • • • Data (e. and office staff who look at the data (finances. Additionally. You might even entertain the possibility of starting with a blank slate and defining your own career.. enjoying aspects of all three. where as larger organizations are more likely to have specialized job functions.. As you consider your ideal setting for living your purpose and achieving your visions. there are likely managers who engage in very little hands-on labor because they’re coordinating people. Smaller organizations are more likely to have broader job descriptions. If you’re a “multicategorian” as I am.g. etc. many clearly fit primarily within one. Interviewing senior citizens in a nursing home. Just keep in .g. a large environmental organization that plants trees in urban areas may have a lot of people who work with things. is very different than interviewing children in an elementary school.e. those who do the outdoors labor of actually planting the trees. Furthermore. inventory. synthesizing and comparing) People (e.
look for everyday opportunities to utilize your strengths. Additionally. Keep this in mind later as you create strategies for pursuing your visions. increase your happiness. or new and more effective ways to get involved in a current job or volunteer activity. we’re more likely to exercise these “muscles” to develop them–e.. adding knowledge and experience to our talents. and provide you with additional energy to pursue your visions. An additional step: Developing strengths Another benefit of identifying our strengths is that once we’re familiar with them.g. benefit the world. This will further develop your strengths. .PART II: BEING NAKED mind that if you don’t take the time to proactively determine your strengths. This includes identifying new ways to perform routine tasks. others will make many of your decisions for you.
and we see ourselves as the only hope–if we don’t find the way to save the world. The primary focus is not . Having the need to appear perfect in the eyes of others. and strengths. we should choose to create them– and embrace that they are important to us. and it may be driven by a genuine desire to bring our visions into being. but maybe we don’t want to do this by becoming President. it’s easy to get caught up in what others choose to pursue. Another part of authenticity is not getting caught up in a need to appear perfect. Perhaps we’d rather perform music. we often hold ourselves to very high standards. Part of this comes from having the courage to pursue our visions. As suggested earlier. We may wish to have a modest eco-friendly house rather than a mansion. If those things are important to us and tie into our unique purpose. or inspire transformation in other people’s lives. 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. • The first is not necessarily a bad thing unless taken to the extreme. we give others permission to do the same.65 Per the earlier discussion on “should” values.NAKED IDEALISM 10. by becoming truly alive. and to judge ourselves based upon what we do or don’t have in comparison. Accepting Self & Avoiding Perfectionism As we seek others to join us in our visions for a better life and world. 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. especially those which may run against the societal norm. As idealists. with the goal of continuous self-improvement in the service of creating something larger than ourselves. We may have a desire to change the world. create photographs. values.
PART II: BEING NAKED on our own identity. and the conversations were fascinating. a science professor who had just received tenure. we may lose out on opportunities to make important connections with people. I’ve found many ways to incorporate it into my life. Even worse. For one. It seemed as though at least one Ivy League degree was a prerequisite for attendance. but upon our constantly evolving skills. the irrationality of my thinking was exposed when I enthusiastically explained to people what I did. and an assortment of doctors and lawyers. the talent represented among students in my music courses at Andover and Yale was noteworthy. Had I allowed my insecurity to govern my behavior. we may refrain from doing things we enjoy simply because we feel we’re not as good as others. I would have kept my new business largely a secret. They included high-ranking staff from the offices of prominent legislators. we may miss opportunities to learn from people who have higher levels of knowledge and experience in our favorite activities. The second. Who ever said we had to do it on our own? Related to this. Fortunately. Having a strong need to appear perfect can create a number of negative impacts. may be driven by unaddressed fears and unmet needs.” I thought I had overcome my “small fish in a big pond” insecurities after attending college. 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. As noted. but discovered that old mindsets easily come back to haunt us. We may fear being perceived as weak or incompetent. It will also make success seem scary. however. Because we fear looking inferior. noting that they knew a few people who could benefit from my services. as we’ll fear not being able to do it on our own. which will slow our progress in achieving our desired results. we may instead avoid those who could help us most. if we’re too concerned about how we appear to others. As an example. They reacted very energetically in several cases. However. Everyone I met was exceptionally friendly. and to share our gifts. I allowed myself to feel insecure about my less-recognized profession with no established position on the “social status scale. With music. 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. The same held true for psychology. rather than ask . however. Because I’ve always enjoyed psychology and have been very good at it.
I had to overcome some perfectionism-related fear and procrastination to write and complete this book.” I recently participated in a survey that referred to vegans as “110% vegetarian. 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. I’ve encountered individuals who express an interest in vegetarianism or veganism.NAKED IDEALISM myself. Next. “I’ll never be as good as they are–I just don’t have that level of talent. place three composters in your yard. and not simply because you wish to show off or appear perfect to others. Recall the concept of masterminding discussed earlier.” I knew they were trying to be humorous. . but don’t even take a first step toward change because they could never see themselves being a “totally perfect vegan. 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. and it may simply aggravate other people. If you choose to get rid of your car altogether. and learn from them?” I instead secretly thought. “How might I strive to be more like these talented individuals. If we are too concerned with appearing perfect. For example. I’m usually quick to throw out the disclaimer that I’m far from perfect myself. then we are likely to slow our own progress. Procrastination often accompanies this fear.” This is yet another reason I largely pushed aside one of my favorite activities for several years. and put a windmill on your roof. such as a concern for the environment. If we can’t admit this to ourselves. we’ll also be more afraid to take risks in achieving our visions. become vegan. we may never achieve the success we desire. Naked idealism will forever elude us. 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. make sure it’s because you truly desire to improve the world. but the label was nonetheless reflective of a larger reality. The latter will come across in your demeanor. and will consequently experience only limited growth. The same dynamic applies to other causes.” which we’ll discuss in Part IV. This is a particularly serious consequence when we’re involved in causes that place us in a very small minority to begin with. This relates to the concept of “PC shoulds. Thus.
you’ll discover the benefits of recruiting the assistance of others. and will be able to focus your energies on tasks where you’re utilizing your own unique skills and interests. perfectionism may lead to the idealist “holier than thou” attitude. 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. and our ability to achieve our visions. by “telescoping” your visions as outlined in Part III. improving your confidence. Described in Part IV. this can negatively impact our relationships with others. Also heed the Part III advice on keeping yourself focused upon what you’re creating for its own sake. you’re already making significant change in your life and in the world.PART II: BEING NAKED Finally. Furthermore. If you’re steadily progressing toward your larger visions. and try not to let your ego get too caught up in the creative process or the desired outcome. you’ll more easily see the importance of your everyday accomplishments. Over time. our quality of life. Engage yourself in tasks where you must ask for help. . even if you’re not perfect.
Reviewing Our Authentic Self Before moving on. 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) . so you have an easy reminder to return to.NAKED IDEALISM 11. you may wish to review and summarize what you’ve learned about yourself in Part II.
.”66 Now that we’ve identified some of the elements of authentic self through reflection and self-analysis. . we can determine where we want to go and plan purposeful action to get there. doing is “movement and activity..83 PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED A s noted earlier. It stems from natural creative energy.
I weave these ideas into the larger being-doing-having framework. The later sections discuss how to place our personal visions within the larger context of the community and world. Incorporating personal experience. weaves references to the toy into dinner table conversations. and you may find that different types and sizes of projects demand different approaches. You may find yourself listing the finer details in your head rather than on paper. “You’ll shoot your eye out. Young Ralphie wants nothing as much as a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas. I find the methods outlined here to help with many but not all projects and life areas. Whether we seek to attain something as small as a BB gun or as large as a peaceful and just society. an alternative mindset can help in many ways. A Christmas Story.NAKED IDEALISM A comedic 1983 film. In Ralphie’s mind. Regardless. each of us prefers to work in a slightly different way. you may pick and choose the extent to which you use the techniques. It is time for the next do-licious course of mental nourishment! . Do what works best for you. we can all learn to harness Ralphie’s creative energies. He daydreams constantly about the gun. so that planning. 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. illustrates the value of a key component of doing things naked: powerful vision. He hides Red Rider advertisements in his mother’s favorite magazine. most notably a creative framework and “telescoping” technique developed by Robert Fritz and expanded by Bruce Elkin. kid!” he continues to dwell upon his fantasy. His actions increasingly align with his goal of obtaining the toy as he recognizes opportunities to persuade his parents to buy it. integration and action may replace feeling overwhelmed. Part III blends previous thinking on the concept of vision. Ignoring the frequent adult response. visualizing scenes in which it enables him to play a heroic role. After practicing some of the concepts. and even attempts to leverage a school essay assignment as a persuasive tool. While many details and recommendations appear here.
.”68 The true emphasis is upon our desired end results. Before we make a bed.”67 We might also think of visioning as “purposeful imagination. before we’re able to create a meal. Visions may be very large.71 Psychologist Milton Erickson reportedly cured a client’s facial acne by having them remove the mirrors from their dwelling..g. we can more easily identify what’s truly important to us. With our purpose. is “a clear mental picture of a result you want to create. stress the importance of utilizing vision for public office candidates and incumbents. As Gawain notes. When Hill interviewed Carnegie’s business colleagues. Establishing Vision What vision is After clarifying key elements of our authentic self. “form follows idea” even with simple creations. values. when. e. an idea perceived vividly in your imagination. Without visualizing. and whom questions: . a vision of a finished birthday cake. we’re less likely to chase visions that stem from superficial reasons. is answering the following what. their tips for success often emphasized vision.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED 12.70 Williamson and Eakes outline some of the neuroscientific evidence behind visioning. before we even begin thinking about how we’re going to obtain them. further disseminated information on the power of visioning. or they may be smaller and more concrete.g. most of us couldn’t get through a typical day. while vision is a motivational tool that helps focus our energies so we can create them. e. and strengths in mind.a compelling image..72 The Secret. e..g. where.. we must develop a vision of what it will look like.69 Randall et al. A vision. Dave Ellis holds that a first step in defining our desires. we hold in our mind a vision of it being made. our vision of an ideal world or community. as defined by Elkin. Many authors have highlighted the power of vision. although omitting several key components of the process and offering a largely supernatural explanation.
Before discussing specific guidelines for creating powerful visions. Leading Self and Others Through Purposeful Creating. They feel re-energized and motivated to define and pursue visions. Following is a relatively basic vision I established for graduate students in my self-development course.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. They possess a draft of a meaningful life purpose. They possess an additional set of tools for managing adversity. designed to capture and store water from our downspout: . This is a more detailed vision I established for our homemade rain barrel irrigation system. they have a gravitational pull that motivates us to bring them into being.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. They focus upon positives and possibilities. and when used appropriately. we’ll examine a few examples.
I’m very excited that at least five people per week are learning about the benefits of sustainable living via our rain barrel system. The water gushes from the downspout during a rainstorm. • Twenty neighbors decide to install rain barrels after seeing ours. and an overflow tube routes water back into the drain when the barrels fill with 150 gallons of water. he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. as we’ll soon discuss.” -Stephen Covey . The soaker hose runs out to the front yard and covers a 4 x 15 planting area. As you read the above details. I’m productively accomplishing other work such as pulling weeds and harvesting herbs.” -Buddhist proverb “Begin with the end in mind. and I’m chatting with neighbors.” -Henry David Thoreau “If we are facing in the right direction. and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined. all we have to do is keep walking.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. I feel great knowing that we’re conserving at least 600 gallons of water per summer. experiencing and enjoying the results? This is one of the elements of a powerful vision. 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. do you begin to get the sense that you’re actually there.
NAKED IDEALISM When we have a clear definition of what we want and where we are headed.e. “Hey.76 Leadership consulting firms often assess managers’ abilities to create clear and compelling visions.. our options are likely to be limited to the following: • • • We can react. we can be proactive. Even if others aren’t interested in being involved first-hand.77 Revisiting our visions regularly also conditions our mind to remain open to opportunities that will help us to achieve what we desire. our focused message and energy will still help them to remember us when other appropriate resources come their way. you need to connect with this guy I recently met named Dave Wheitner..75 When we have vision.. For example. We can act in an uncoordinated fashion. 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. in “problem solving” mode. Without a vision.e.. 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. we can organize our thoughts and actions to take us there more efficiently.” If you’re already involved with coordinating small or large groups of people.e. and with entire communities addressing challenging issues such as sustainability. This is true of large organizations. i. Gottlieb urges board members and executive directors to define what they wish to accomplish (i. but without a map or any sense of the destination.. they might meet a friend who’s interested in building an ecologically friendly home in Pittsburgh. the end result) rather than merely defining what they’re doing (i. The earlier case of . We can act in a manner that helps to fulfill others’ visions–which may or may not align with our own values and visions. Have you ever been on a tight schedule to get somewhere as soon as possible. and to lead with them. 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. current actions that may or may not lead toward a clearly defined end result). and say.
The rain barrel irrigation system: a result of visioning . I ended up with what is now a 300-gallon. Following a vision based process with the guidance of a coach. This. In the example of the rain barrel irrigation system. who often miss the parking spots that she sees. even in crowded parts of the city–because she visualizes a parking spot. but require the proper mindset to notice them. Another participant agreed. more focused vision can broaden one’s peripheral awareness. Developing compelling and detailed visions can motivate us to go far beyond where we would normally go. Hill noted the power of vision to “put our subconscious to work for us” decades ago. they close themselves off to many of the possibilities. In one of my workshops. with scientific evidence of this coming later. noting that his “peripheral vision for parking spots” is better when he actively visualizes one. is in stark contrast to other drivers she frequently rides with. six-barrel system. our subsconscious might alert us if it’s pertinent to a result we’re set on achieving. even if our conscious attention is not focused on something.78 In other words. she explained. Because they’re not as confident that they’ll find a spot. a participant noted that whenever she’s driving she always finds a parking spot. This suggests the seemingly paradoxical conclusion that a sharper. Opportunities may subtly present themselves.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Ralphie is but one example of this. I began with the intention of building only a three-barrel system.
and inform.79 They do not actually need to be engaged in the activity for this to occur. Are you ready for a workout? . I had never designed or taught a class before.” “Great class that. Some of the students had many more years of professional and life experience than I. I created detailed visions for my students and for myself as described earlier. 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 hope that my students continue to find the concepts useful.. 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. I think Mr. 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.” “Great class–much more than I had expected! And probably the most useful of all. For example. direct. both in their personal lives and in their community leadership endeavors. lead. Finally. This was also my best professor. striking out opposing team members and winning the game–all while she relaxes in a psychology lab armchair.is paying dividends in my life-personally and professionally. let alone a graduate course. 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.NAKED IDEALISM I also utilized such a process to create and teach the self-development course I mentioned earlier. As I learned the vision-based creative process with my coach. Thanks!” “This class was top-notch. which in turn inspired me to write this book. The curriculum was useful and timely.. and once again when I began to teach it.I can’t say enough about how impressed I was with Dave’s ability to teach.. I experienced some anxiety when I set out to create it.
I’d recommend incorporating more of the guidelines to see how they work for you. don’t do don’t.” This creates more emotional energy than visualizing yourself from the sidelines. you’ll pursue them with much more energy. You might even realize that you don’t really want it. Rather than envisioning a neighborhood that does not have crime and noise.” so that “if you only get one-fourth of what you want. however. What elements of your purpose and values tie into it? What does it do for you? This may provide additional motivation. While you don’t want to be completely unrealistic and set yourself up for failure. stripping it of judgment or constraints driven by current reality.81 As you clarify each vision of what you want.”82 Large and difficult visions can always be broken down into more manageable pieces. envision a neighborhood that does have safety and peace. as we’ll discuss later.80 Different personalities and different visions may require different approaches. Place your vision in first-person present tense. You may discover something new about your values or purpose. One of my life coaching clients. This is better to discover sooner rather than later. Do think do. so you can really imagine the experience of achieving your end result–this gets the motivational juices going. Later we’ll discuss how to include words like “choose” so that we don’t confuse our vividly envisioned future with our current reality. ask yourself why you want it.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Guidelines for creating powerful. I feel the tape snap as I glide over the line. Never envision results that violate your sense of right and wrong. Make your vision as “naked” as possible. Several reporters’ cameras flash on either side of me. Escaping what you don’t want is problem solving. as we’ll discuss. and relatively “loose” visions for others. Ellis suggests that we “imagine paradise times four. . “I am the first person to finish the 5K run. this may drive us to create conflict with others. Create visions of results that are aligned with your authentic self. prefers very concrete visions for certain areas of their life. As you start out. you will still end up with paradise. not in terms of what you don’t want or want less of. When working toward results that are in sync with who you are. don’t be afraid to dream big. for example. State your visions in terms of what you do want or want more of. naked visions There’s no hard and fast rule stating that you need to follow each and every one of the suggestions below. or that it’s actually driven by a deeper want. or in the future.
If you feel that others in your life limit your ability to achieve what you wish. visualize your competitor finding better opportunities to provide value. 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. Now that you know some of the guidelines for developing visions. We’ll address a few types of mental obstacles later. and it will also enable you to measure your progress better. try putting them out of mind temporarily as you create your visions. If you envision your organization gaining customers from your competitor. consider the reasons why your vision may not resonate with you. then your vision might include. Avoid comparison terms like less or more. for example.. “I weigh 160 pounds.” Include a deadline date so your visions aren’t lost in the shuffle of life’s other demands.) 83 If you have difficulty visualizing what you want even while using the above guidelines.000 people.000 and I’m on the road three months per year. try something specific like. For example. if you want to be a popular music star performing before audiences of 20. It may simply be that you’re more of a verbal person. You might even try to understand their interests and imagine how you could relate to them in a mutually beneficial fashion. Perhaps beliefs or fears are blocking you.g. don’t leave important items out. you can write a brief “future biography. This may be the case. e. Keep in mind that you can always adjust them slightly if necessary. To start. .” “Mentally erase” people who decrease your vision energy.” 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. you can begin to focus more upon your desired future. “I’m performing before audiences of 20.NAKED IDEALISM Visualize positive outcomes for all involved. if you state that you want to weigh less. then simply losing two ounces fits your definition of progress. Greater clarity will create a stronger motivational pull. you may feel that you do not deserve success. For example. If you desire limits on your traveling. Be as specific as possible about what you want. consider that this may involve a great deal of traveling. Honestly include all aspects of your vision. Instead. If you believe this to be the case. (Ellis reminds us that we can always bring them back later. As Elkin advises. and visualizing just doesn’t have the same power for you. try to rely a little more on verbal affirmations.” or “I’m comfortably wearing the size X pants that I became too large to wear three years ago.
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. we describe who we are via our previous experiences and accomplishments. 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. including what you’re doing. Spend half an hour to an hour writing or typing a vivid description of your ideal life. how you feel. and so on. It doesn’t need to be perfect! You’ll most likely want to return to it later. Consider including an overall description of the future life you’ve just created. Imagine what you’d like your life to look like a year or five years from now. just set it aside and return to it later. don’t force it. of course. this will get the creative vision juices flowing and provide an opportunity to practice some of the vision creation guidelines before moving on. Include as much detail as possible. friendships. romantic relationships. However. What if we want to create a future that is very different from our past. incorporating concepts from upcoming sections. In an attempt to achieve these ends. While often useful. If you have difficulty. as well as a description of something specific you’ve created as part of it. . focusing upon whatever areas of your life stand out as being most important. try to follow as many of the previously suggested vision guidelines as possible. Write in the first-person and present tense–and. and who is around you. it is only part of the picture.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.
and must later rediscover. and observe how your life begins to change. Although in a hurry. “That’ll be fifty cents!” he exclaimed as he poured the cup. I asked.NAKED IDEALISM As you gain clarity with your future biography.” I was silent for a brief moment of disbelief. Real-life lesson: Not your average 10-year-old Often as we grow older. and the power with which it hit me. I thought to myself. softspoken and serious-looking boy selling lemonade along the sidewalk. I reflected upon the very matter-of-fact manner in which he stated his intentions. “I’m planting flowers for the neighborhood. This example illustrates that even a 10-year-old can be driven by the power of a simple vision and clear intent. I decided to stop for a few moments to buy a glass. you may consider utilizing segments of it in your introductions when you meet people. “Wow. a common coaching goal is to develop—or redevelop—a . Dropping the quarters into his palm. A few years ago. “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. (Coincidentally. I was walking near our home when I approached a small. “What are you raising money for?” I expected him to mention an MP3 player or a video game system. This 10-year-old was exhibiting clarity of intent that many of us misplace as the years pass. in tune with their internal wants and values. we overcomplicate things in our minds. which can decrease our power and motivation. that’s really thoughtful of you! I hope you sell a lot of lemonade!” As I continued home.
As he looked up. I was working at the computer when I heard a repetitive metallic banging noise emanating from the rear of our house. most residents had apparently stopped questioning its existence. wielding what looked like an ice-chipping or digging tool. and walked down to speak with him. I was startled to see a small boy bundled up in his winter coat. Some consider this an element of the “Law of Attraction. I again stood there dumbfounded. not quite sure what to say next. Not that he was even waiting for a response. and tell him that I would be putting sand on the ice later that day. 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. Thus. He was eagerly attempting to whittle away a very large buildup of ice that had formed along a lengthy stretch of the sidewalk. the ice had formed there every winter for over 30 years. as neighbors had explained that it emanated from a continuously flowing underground stream. offer him a few dollars for whatever allowance fund he might have.”) The following winter. thank him for his efforts.” Was he currently raising funds for next year’s planting? “Hey. For a moment. I realized it was the same boy who had been selling lemonade to “plant flowers for the neighborhood. On a site affectionately labeled the “Aylesboro Wetlands” by long-time residents. still chipping away at the ice. As I peered out the window. The best we thought we could do was to put up caution tape each winter. I had previously all but given up on my own attempts to control that annual patch of ice. By and large. he replied.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED gravitational sense of confidence that helps to draw resources to accomplish one’s vision. “I saw the ice and thought somebody might slip on it. alongside the street. His energy and determination suggested that he was oblivious to the size of the task ahead of him.” He looked back down and continued to chip away. I decided it best to go outside. But here . even though pedestrians still had to walk out into the street to avoid it. threw on my coat and shoes. and dump sand on it every few days. I assumed that he was probably hoping to earn a little spending money. I grabbed several dollars out of my wallet. but I didn’t want him to risk injuring himself while working on the slippery ice with a sharp tool. and a man had supposedly slipped and broken his leg some years prior.
giving him some money to add to his fund. It’s certainly not always easy to keep this perspective. I discovered that the issue stemmed from an abandoned coal mine. and submitted it to those leaders. Ultimately. It took me a few moments to determine what to do. but I still felt concerned that he might injure himself. . I didn’t want to destroy his youthful naked idealism and initiative. trying not to think about the size of a task that seemed to grow larger with each step. Following minimal responses. and that I’d rather it be me than him. unadulterated vision of a safe and healthy neighborhood. bringing with it a host of governmental and regulatory complexities. I told him he was right that somebody could slip and suffer an injury. the vision was nonetheless achieved. I began to “chip away at the ice” more proactively myself. youthful. At the same time. but it can be helpful. safe. momentum grew. and established an online community discussion group. Following two stories in local newspapers and a meeting with local agency directors at our house. and sustainable community. and within a year of that. Within a few months. there was still minimal response. Eventually. a few more neighbors came fully on board to champion the cause. driven by his clear. I developed a vision for a safe sidewalk and contacted several neighbors and public officials about the issue. seemingly out of a pure sense of concern for others. Not too long after that. a dozen households on the block pledged money. No public money was needed. and letting him know that I’d do something about this ice. I further clarified a vision for a healthy. With their energy.NAKED IDEALISM was a 10-year-old energetically taking the initiative to address the problem. While I had envisioned a slightly different path to a safe driveway. I stuck with my original plan of praising him for his good deed. his actions also made me realize that I had somehow failed to act upon my own wishes for a safe and healthy neighborhood. This was due to several people maintaining the attitude of the young boy: He probably wouldn’t concern himself with such complexities. I placed a petition that was signed by 70 pedestrians. the driveway was repaired with private funds. he’d just keep chipping away at the ice.
He visualizes how good he felt when he was 160. 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. we will encounter obstacles. Setting Up a Creative Framework The power of tension In most cases.85 Humans have a natural need to resolve tension resulting from contrasting thoughts. even though he’s currently 180 pounds. having just a vision of our desired results isn’t enough. covering elements and techniques that some popular works have omitted.”84 We will now discuss how to establish such a path.) It would be great to be able to wear that to the reunion! The more he thinks about this. despite the fact that he often complains about his weight.” this type of approach should fit many of us quite well. What we wish to be doing versus what we are currently doing. he hasn’t given much thought as to what his ideal weight would even be.” For example. life coaches and executive coaches are taught to “coach to the gap. (Gasp!) He’d really like to be in good shape for it. As we strive to become naked idealists who create results. Given Keirsey’s observation that idealists’ “preferred time and place are the future and the pathway. we must also design a means for getting there. (Ahhh. For this reason. suppose Joe is getting ready to make a big batch of brownies. Fritz notes that “energy moves along the path of least resistance. But then as he’s going through his mail. The truth is. he discovers a reminder that his 10-year college reunion is coming up in only three months. and able to fit into his favorite dance club outfit. What we wish to have versus what we currently have.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED 13. This can include discrepancies between any of the following: • • • Who we wish to be versus who we currently perceive ourselves to be. the more tension he feels .
. An example appears in the table below. To help create the body he envisions. Given the 20-pound gap now in his mind.800-mile trek were truly grueling. 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. he instead considers a fresh fruit smoothie. From time to time. that really kept me going. thinking about how happy I would be when it actually occurred. I would look at the odometer and envision the final mileage appearing on the screen. 100% of students take the SAT. the brownies don’t sound like such a good idea. On the most difficult days. I utilized a handlebarmounted odometer that I would reset to “0” each morning. All students take at least one honors course. which maintained tension. I was using some of the same techniques outlined here without being conscious of it. When possible. (I still get a bit excited recalling that!) In other words. On occasion. Also in my mind was the number that would appear on my odometer when we had finally reached our destination. so I could keep track of how many miles I had already gone for the day. I experienced a simple example of creative tension in 1997. Figure 10: Example of Contrasting Elements between Vision and Current Reality Vision Components 75% of children in Idealville attend college. 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. That was my constant reminder of current reality. involving 80 to 100 miles of riding through hot and humid weather.NAKED IDEALISM between where he currently is and where he wants to be. Current Reality Components 20% of children in Idealville attend college. No students take honors courses yet. Some of the days of the 3. during the crosscountry cycling trip mentioned earlier. 25% of students take the SAT. I was holding in mind a vision alongside current reality.
and the roads appear to be salted.87 In other words. As with defining powerful visions. the roads are too slippery. describe current reality only after you’ve defined your vision–this way. you’re not allowing reality to limit your vision. and on Saturday morning it’s 20 Fahrenheit and snowing. By avoiding negative judgment. noting that the current state of reality doesn’t alter your desired end results. they will hold us back in others. I’m likely to become irritated. For example. we avoid the risk of overestimating how close we already are to achieving our desired results. Next. By avoiding positive judgment. and this just isn’t fair. “It’s 20 Fahrenheit. planning in many settings such as business. and education is often done by examining past data to predict what will happen in the future. we must be realistic about where we are so that we can take proper steps to get from point A to point B. and am probably not likely to go for a ride. First. either negative or positive. that distorts reality through our own values lens. we keep current reality from emotionally pulling us down.” then I’m allowing judgment to cloud my thinking. For example. on the other hand. If. Just state the facts. simply describe and accept current reality as objectively as possible. Additionally. government. I’m more likely to remember that I have metal . it’s snowing. Otherwise it’s easy to get caught up in limiting but statements such as. I say to myself. “It’s too cold outside. there are several helpful guidelines for describing current reality. and keep my mind open to possibilities.86 While these techniques may be useful in some settings. we don’t want to utilize judgment.” As Ellis explains. “I want to be a doctor. suppose that I’ve been looking forward to a bicycle ride all week.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Describing current reality As mentioned. and it’s easier to maintain the positive thought and behavior necessary to keep moving toward our vision. Don’t blow your top! Simply acknowledge any negative feelings or frustration you have. we must keep in mind current reality alongside our vision to establish creative tension.” then I remain motivated for action. but I haven’t taken the necessary courses to get into medical school. If I say to myself.
Our rowhome is situated on a very hilly property. more continuous yard. segmented by a few retaining walls. setting aside judgment. decreased the energy and enthusiasm I had to be truly creative with the space we have. such as mint.Naysaying + Vision + You = What You Want! . In describing current reality objectively. it’s important to avoid use of “comparison” words rather than concrete terms. In the example above. “too cold” is a judgmental comparison term. quit telling yourself you can’t have what you want. while “20 Fahrenheit outside” is a more factual and objective term. of course. and a number of delicious herbs. Suffice to say we now have a reasonable number of items growing in our yard! Do not covet thy neighbor’s ass. Once I developed creative tension incorporating non-judgmental acceptance of current reality. “I don’t make enough money” is a judgmental comparison. I began to have exciting realizations.89 Then. This. Jen and I both lamented not having a flatter. consider my “envy conversion formula”: E-N+V+Y=W Energy . I could more easily generate visions of what it could be. a primary hobby for the last few years. This included a rain barrel system that irrigated a significant portion of the garden. once I began to accept that we have a hilly and segmented yard. has taught me the value of accepting current reality without judgment. “I want mine to look just like that!” convert the objects of jealously and envy into components of your vision. while “I make $10 per hour” is factual and objective. To implant this concept in your mind. 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. and redirect your emotional energy and your authentic self to create what you envision. Some of the segmented-off portions of the yard would be perfect for growing plants that had a reputation for taking over the garden. and I’ll continue to brainstorm about how I can achieve my vision of an enjoyable bicycle ride.NAKED IDEALISM studded snow tires and a thick fleece.88 This is identical to the concept we discussed under guidelines for defining powerful visions. envision thine own. Whether it’s your neighbor’s tiny tush or their spacious sunroom that makes you say. However. On a number of occasions. Gardening.
and so on. “I am ignorant” and “We are not smart enough” have a very permanent sound to them. I stuffed myself beyond the point of comfort in a vain attempt to “get my money’s worth. not knowing that we’d later discover things much more valuable to us. In describing current reality. You get the picture. simply include “a tropical vacation by [preferred date]” somewhere in your visions. Economists often call these “sunk costs” or “stranded costs. I could have enjoyed my meal as well as the next several hours of my life. Rather than expending energy and time fretting over it.90 One way to do this is by using words such as yet. or even a graduate program based upon what felt safe. We may have chosen a living location. This includes non-recoverable investments of time.91 For example. but I did decrease my quality of life for several hours. When describing current reality. so you can begin to create it.” Another way is to avoid linking verbs and adjectives that suggest a permanent trait or condition. and miss out on a great deal of life doing so. e. also use language to remind yourself that it’s not necessarily permanent. have you ever gone to an “all you can eat” food buffet. The simple fact may be that we made important decisions during times when we weren’t focused upon what is truly important to us. Some people spend years attempting to recover larger sunk costs. “I’ll never be able to do that–Ryan really annoys me!” We can recognize this as a sign of what we want. I didn’t recover any of my already-spent money. For example.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED For example. we realize that we envy our friend Ryan for taking a tropical vacation each year. 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.” In making myself feel sick. Had I simply accepted the sunk cost..” No amount of effort will recover them. what we thought would provide us with a secure paycheck. “I do not yet have a graduate degree” rather than simply stating. and any efforts to do so will simply result in additional expense to us. Clarify what you want the vacation to look like. energy. suppose that while we’re defining our current reality. instead using action verbs. feeling we need to get our money’s . 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.g. a job. and money that may be largely unrelated to our new visions. it’s also important to avoid being driven too much by the past. This would include spending a decade in a legal job that we despise. “I don’t have a graduate degree.
(By the way. Beyond this. If we wish to learn from our errors and change methods when they’re not working. so you can adjust your approach as necessary. We also want to see that they’re measurable in some way.” While the negatives provide a contrast from the vision and help to set up tension.95 This will help to avoid the issue of becoming too rigid in our strategies. Note again that these are positive and negative facts. it’s helpful to avoid becoming too set upon how we get there. continually revise your description of current reality as you progress or regress. “I do not yet have a graduate degree. I already have an undergraduate degree. it helps to . we don’t need to lay out the entire roadmap. it’s helpful to avoid becoming too emotionally attached to our end results.93 Intermittently step back to look at the big picture and assess where you are in the process.NAKED IDEALISM worth out of our law degree. we must create a concrete plan of action to bridge the gap between them–the path for getting from current reality to vision.e.. your work need not be lost. not judgments or opinions.) Additionally. likewise.92 For example. Because as idealists we’re often challenging the status quo with our visions. just the major next steps. that is where they should be. We’ll discuss how to do this soon. flexibility is vital. Defining action steps: The strategy for getting there Once we’ve clearly defined where we wish to go and where we currently are. positives help to boost confidence and remind us of resources we can leverage as we work toward our vision. As mentioned earlier. do we have a way of knowing when we’ve completed each action step? Related to this. we want to make sure that they’re doable.”94 In defining action steps. other than seeing that they actually lead from current reality toward vision. I’m using law only as an arbitrary example here. As Henry David Thoreau noted. First. we’re particularly likely to face adversity requiring us to flex our approaches. Finally. Now put the foundations under them. i. there are only a few important rules to follow when creating action steps. 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. “If you have built castles in the air. we may need to break them down further.
including action steps between vision and current reality. Additionally. you may also need to do this from time to time. Recall that I wanted to empower the students to make their dreams a reality while expanding my own knowledge and abilities. but whenever possible. we should also attempt to incorporate our strengths into our action steps wherever possible. Keep in mind that it’s not necessarily a sign of failure or inability if you don’t meet the deadline. we must also do our best to respect others’ well-being with our action steps or strategies. Related to this.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED add some type of goal date to aim for. . Following is the three-part creative tension framework for the self-development graduate course I described earlier. win-win is the best route to go. and it’s also likely to be more fun! As with our visions. This is the framework for the former. As suggested earlier. using our strengths is likely to move us toward our visions more rapidly. I had to do some guessing when defining current reality. There may be occasions where we find ourselves in such dire circumstances that we have few options. our action steps should also honor our values so we’re acting with integrity. it may simply be that you chose not to do it or prioritized something else. so I needed two visions: one of my desired outcomes for the students and one of my desired outcomes for myself.
utilizing the vision and current reality framework without establishing action steps at all. Do you prefer to remain relatively open-ended and spontaneous in your approaches. and help them to apply the concepts. They are not managing adversity in an optimal fashion. scientific evidence suggests that vision and action steps complement one another. They possess an additional set of tools for managing adversity. they discuss why it is highly beneficial to have both. Several feel at risk of burning out. I answer any questions they have. Likewise.96 From a neurophysiologic perspective. . Williamson and Eakes differentiate between visions and goals/objectives. you may be tempted to scale down this approach a great deal. The majority do not yet possess a clear definition of life purpose. They focus upon positives and possibilities. They feel energized and motivated to define and pursue visions. if you’re very actionoriented in your approach. the latter of which are somewhat similar to action steps. and define anything lacking clarity. you may be eager to jump to the action steps without first generating vision and current reality. However. without committing to much structure? If so. Current reality for students Many define their current situation primarily in terms of problems.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. I have fun and illustrate a sense of humor. I provide feedback on their draft purpose statements. They all possess a draft of a meaningful life purpose. I provide useful feedback on their papers. Initial action steps • • • • • I provide useful feedback regarding the course concepts on the discussion boards.
step-by-step. When created properly. analysis and planning. Williamson and Eakes explain that the left side of the brain “is involved in linear. and concrete in nature. The right side. and sense what it feels like to have achieved them. like action steps. Goals and objectives. This awareness also provides additional possibilities for readjusting our approach when faced with adversity. . When we put the left and right brain together through a combination of vision. action steps. These segments increase our “peripheral vision” as discussed earlier. The right side is involved in simultaneously comprehending and processing various kinds of data. increasing our awareness of resources that may be relevant to our vision. and visions the right. action steps trigger the left side of the brain. The left side of our brain enables us to move efficiently through action steps to get the job done. we can almost see them before us. activates additional segments of our brains. such as images and pattern recognition. upon generation of detailed visions. As discussed. reasoning. visions are more sensory in nature.” Thus. are much more verbal. we have the best of both worlds.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Essentially. and current reality. visions are compelling and detailed descriptions of desired end results. sequential processing that involves logic.
If you already have useful techniques such as meditating. we can enhance our motivation by holding vision and current reality side by side in our mind. You don’t need to review every detail of them. utilize them. Evidence on the brain’s receptivity to visualization suggests that the best times to do this are shortly after waking and shortly before sleeping. Consider practicing yoga. taking a . When maintaining motivation is a particular challenge. you may wish to hold them in mind more frequently. as was the case for me on the long days of my bicycle trip. for a few minutes twice daily. Figure 12: Holding Creative Tension Combining relaxation techniques with visualization can be quite effective. Putting Our Visions to Work for Us Reviewing the creative tension framework daily After establishing a creative tension framework. just the few that seem most important. or sitting in a quiet spot under your favorite tree. deep breathing.NAKED IDEALISM 14.
calmness. there’s no reason for lasting disappointment. Gawain describes several exercises for grounding ourselves. If you find it helpful to adjust elements of your environment. or going for a walk. and other areas. which involves sitting or lying in a comfortable place. 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. Some were denying their current reality and the work they still needed to do on patience. just let them pass and return to your positive thoughts. such as lighting candles or turning on music. do that as well. One classic exercise is progressive muscle relaxation. There is a large difference between 1) vividly envisioning something we wish to create while still acknowledging our contrasting current . I worked on the rain barrel system before designing a graduate course. and then moved on to writing this book. For example. and a Google search on “relaxation techniques” yields over two million results.com. more concrete visions and then move on to more complex ones as we gain practice. only to relapse. I outline some of them at idealistcoach. Because resistance draws power.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED hot bath. Modern technology also provides many beneficial tools for enhancing our visions and the emotions that accompany them. inhale as you tighten your muscles. tensing and then relaxing one part of the body at a time. If this happens. Simply acknowledge any negative thoughts or doubts that enter your mind without resistance. before putting great efforts into creating something we don’t want. once we start to practice fully visualizing something with all its most important details. hold your breath for two to three seconds as you maintain the muscular tension. Don’t forget areas such as your forehead and jaw. and exhale as you release it. As you’re going through this process. We can save ourselves a great deal of time by realizing this early on. In some cases. from head to toe.97 It’s best to begin with smaller. we may realize that we no longer really want it.
Elkin discusses acting for the sake of the creation itself.” Keeping ego out of our desired results Although we’ll probably be the most energized when working toward results that are important to us. if we get too emotionally attached to attainment of results.” Compare this to conflicting statements without choose. and hinder our ability to be flexible with our action steps. we can lose our ability to think and act objectively. Fear of not obtaining a vision can begin to draw more of our energy than the vision itself. My hopes would rise in anticipation of a particular . We forget that there’s more than one way to peel a banana! When that happens. and examine whether and how we’re meeting our basic needs. and Gawain suggests a simple exercise of imagining one’s vision encapsulated inside a bubble. At many points in the process I faced barriers. we may also close our minds to even greater visions or opportunities that present themselves. 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. Action steps are the best place for adjustments when flexibility is required. This would include the earlier example of desiring a larger house to compensate for feelings of inadequacy. This may pull us back into problem-solving mode.98 Elkin suggests incorporating choice into our visions to avoid such conflicting thoughts. 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. floating away to attract energy.NAKED IDEALISM reality. In other words. Another example of ego getting in the way: the earlier vignette regarding the abandoned coal mine and my desire to create a safe neighborhood. For example. 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. our identity and self-worth should not be dependent upon attainment of the end results. The latter can set up conflicting thoughts that lead us to deny one of them. and 2) simply reciting affirmations as though our current reality has already aligned with our visions. Detaching ourselves from our desired results does not necessarily mean letting our visions erode if things don’t work out as planned. However. decreasing our motivation. it’s helpful to keep our egos separate from what we seek to create. reevaluate what we value. We may need to step back.
and tired of dealing with the situation. “How can I write about achieving visions when I can’t even achieve a vision myself?” I would lament. I had to recognize that when our desired results depend on the cooperation of others. Mark decided that he “wasn’t going to take it personally” anymore–instead. These uncontrollable external factors had posed significant barriers to his larger visions. however. He would simply keep in mind his vision of the positive impact he wishes to have on the world. I was tempted to resort to problemsolving mode. Regardless of when and how the neighborhood achieved the end result of a safe sidewalk. primarily because officials other than Mark were in a better position to help them achieve their specific goals. I would continue to create many other positive things in my life as well. separated myself from the vision. 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. Mark had placed a high priority on the relationships. When I experienced the most frustration. . a seasoned public leader whom we’ll call “Mark. a colleague noted how much calmer he seemed. Mark was also frustrated by witnessing votes divided among lines of established factions. he would focus on the bigger picture. One day. some factors will be beyond our control. I would continue to anticipate an eventual positive outcome regardless of what obstacles we faced.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED individual or organization helping us. A few of them had declined to support him at key points. and looked at the bigger picture once again. Amidst the turmoil of a debate that he once would have allowed to trigger negativity.” related examples of feeling betrayed by individuals with whom he had spent years establishing relationships. and had expected them to do the same–he thus took it personally when they refused to support him. seemingly without regard to facts and data. Such an attitude is particularly important for those of us in leadership positions where we must deal with multiple stakeholders and changing political tides. it was often because I viewed the lack of progress as an indicator of my own abilities. At those points. rise above the fray. and accept the current reality facing him. and continue to do his best while also taking care of himself–regardless of obstacles and outcomes. A coaching client. and fall again as I learned that they didn’t want to become involved in the issue. He had made a decision to focus more upon himself and the factors within his direct control. I caught myself. frustrated. Fortunately.
something to be gotten through first. . This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. working out. If we’ve created visions that are in line with who we are. As we get into the process of doing. We’ll also have more fun on the journey if we’re flexible with our initial action steps when necessary. a debt to be paid. we mustn’t entirely forget about being. Likewise. whether it is doing yoga. time still to be served. we don’t want to forget about the importance of having fun in the present. or engaging in a hobby that allows us to clear our mind and be in the moment.NAKED IDEALISM Celebrating & enjoying the journey As we allow our visions to pull us forward. and have generated action steps that also build upon our strengths. sitting in quiet reflection. But there was always some obstacle in the way. chances are good that we will enjoy much of our path to your destinations. Alfred D’Souza: “For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin–real life. we should strive to enjoy the process of getting where we wish to go. or listening to a few minutes of music can do wonders for me. Earlier we covered the value of meditative or relaxation exercises for improving the strength of visioning. Happiness is a journey. riding my bicycle. some unfinished business. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one. Take the wise words of Fr. and if we don’t connect our results to our personal identity too strongly. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. Jogging through the woods. not a destination. help to ground us in the present. This is particularly important to keep in mind if our larger visions span beyond our own individual lifetime.” In other words. Happiness is the way. savoring accomplishments of smaller visions en route to our larger ones. a daily meditative process can also Jen stops to smell the flowers.
What are some of the wins or enjoyable moments you’ve had today? Spend a minute jotting down five or six of them. the caterer suffered serious stomach issues and the original photographer had to undergo eye surgery–ironic but true. it’s important to minimize dwelling on the negative. and so on. The CD with songs for several key points of the reception was lost. Our wedding coordinator waded out into a small lake to retrieve the wedding trellis and move it to dry ground. what strategy we use to peel it.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 guests all seemed to enjoy themselves as well. the delays in both cases provided some of us with additional opportunity to chat and catch up on one another’s lives. everything fell into place with the catering and photography. Were there any that you had almost forgotten about. This may lead us to discover other things that we previously took for granted in our everyday lives.99 We are likely to notice details that previously escaped us altogether. Often the negatives matter little in the bigger scheme of things. and wonderful people we experience along the way. In retrospect. our problems were quite small compared to those of others. we can take careful note of how the outside looks and feels. The day Jen and I were married is a perfect example. the rain stopped just long enough for us to have our outdoor ceremony. In fact. The bride and groom had rented a beautiful location for the ceremony and reception. As we pursue our visions. we may be more likely to notice the small wins. what it sounds like when we peel it. the groom’s mother slipped on the church steps and dislocated her arm only an hour before the ceremony. it rained heavily. I participated in another wedding where the DJ showed up to the reception nearly two hours late. and we still had plenty of fun. enjoyable moments. resulting in great panic. or didn’t even stop to recognize at the time? Avoiding holes of negativity In addition to focusing on the positive. and a nearby stream flooded the area where it was to take place. the weddings still occurred. especially if we don’t let them. We had planned an outdoor ceremony. Just days before our wedding. how the inside of the peel looks and feels. However. The week prior to and during our wedding day. and all worked out well in the end. Despite these misfortunes. For example. In yet another. . but there was no music.
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. be it fire. and then pairing the problem-solving product with uplifting music and imagery to induce a contrasting positive emotion. war. We can’t just blame the media. They have already begun to test viewers’ reactions to political advertisements as well. Just as car accidents create rubbernecking. The first ad. even if indirectly. Perhaps you’ll see a way that your own actions can benefit them.100 It fills our mind with negative images and emotions. problem-solving mindset.101 Advertising is a specific media arena where a negative. problem-solving approach is particularly pervasive. One marketing research company is experimenting with a novel technology: headband sensors that gauge viewers’ emotional responses to television commercials. it can contribute to powerlessness. conveys the message that if you’re cleaning your kitchen with a regular sponge. for a kitchen cleaner. envision what positive outcome you’d like to see for those impacted by the tragedy. The problem-focused thinking that underlies much of the news and advertising worlds may continue to increase. .102 The company’s representative described two examples. as they’re often simply catering to our already dominant way of thinking. (That certainly makes me cringe. For example. the germs in it yield the equivalent of rubbing raw chicken on the counter and cabinet surfaces.NAKED IDEALISM It is often difficult to avoid negativity. this type of news is often the most likely to grab our attention. The representative noted that many commercials follow this pattern of describing a problem. when you hear or see a depressing news story. disease or crime. instilling a feeling of anxiety or fear. our airwaves are filled with depressing messages describing the problems of the world.) The ad then shows the advertised cleaner coming in to save the day. the larger the impact. 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. A second ad for a career site describes a distraught person who currently hates their job.103 I’m also not suggesting that we attempt to ignore all the world’s negatives. but rather that we condition ourselves to view them differently. Rather than helping us to see possibilities. and may keep us in a pessimistic.
and needed to be prepared for that. . Whenever you’re tempted to retreat from a vision. then we’re probably not changing all that much. when defining your visions. With practice. and to stop those who don’t really want it that badly. working to create what we’ve envisioned. reactive. know that many successful individuals report having breakthroughs just past the point of serious adversity. and continue toward pursuit of our desired results. Her words turned out to be true. 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.104 Pausch holds that life’s “brick walls” exist to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. problem-solving pattern. alter them. Others believe that obstacles can present many opportunities for learning and growth. This most often occurs as we’re actively carrying out our action steps. it also helps to know our favorite ways of distorting our thinking when we’re under stress. placing more obstacles in our own way. but she was highlighting that I wasn’t always going to be liked by everyone. Rather than moving toward what we want. we’re almost guaranteed to face challenges.” Obviously she didn’t want me to anger any of our stakeholders purposely. and that mindset helped me to enjoy my work more–and to push forward more confidently. We can fall into an anxious. While pursing our visions. you’re probably not doing your job. it’s important to be clear on what you’re willing to give to attain them. we can recognize our irrational thoughts more quickly. we struggle to move away from pain and conflict– sometimes pain and conflict that we’ve created for ourselves.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.105 Again. If we wish to create change in our life and the world. If we don’t.
106 I occasionally find myself spiraling down the irrational thought tubes. “Every single time I sit down to write a grant proposal. David Burns outlines several common types of distorted thinking. I completely failed!” Overgeneralization: We view a single event as a never ending pattern. “like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.000 children from abusive or neglectful homes over the last year.NAKED IDEALISM Don’t blow things out of proportion! In Feeling Good. 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. paraphrased below alongside examples I’ve added. Which of the below patterns do you engage in frequently? All-or-nothing thinking: We view things as black-and-white categories. . For example. “I can’t believe I missed one item on the 50-item exam. our agency may have safely rescued 1.”107 We often fail to acknowledge the many positive events that happened alongside it. distorting our view of reality–as Burns notes. with no grey areas in between. which lead directly into a murky bog of mental quicksand.
We’re driven by guilt rather than free will. We ignore the facts that she got a flat tire on the way to work. “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. even though we weren’t the primary cause of it.” and relates to our earlier discussion on values. and on top of that. I’m surrounded by imbeciles!” As noted under guidelines for describing current reality.” . For example. “I’m always such a bad person. Some helping professionals advise clients to “stop shoulding on yourself” or “stop musterbating. usually negative. No matter what I do.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Jumping to conclusions: Even though we don’t have sufficient facts to support it. Should statements: This can also include “musts” and “oughts. and that at least a dozen coworkers have also submitted reports recently. our boss begins the weekly meeting with an angry scowl on her face. we make ourselves believe that we’re being forced to do it. and thus may not lead us toward productive selfimprovement efforts. Personalization: We see ourselves as the cause of an external event. we convince ourselves that we know why someone is acting a certain way or how a situation is going to turn out.” Magnifying (catastrophizing) or minimizing: We exaggerate or severely understate the importance of an action or quality. all the other funders will soon reject us as well.” Labeling: This is a form of overgeneralizing where we attach a label to ourselves or another person rather than describing the error. I have no idea what I’m doing half the time” (minimizing). such labels suggest permanence. possibly because others expect it of us. “I’m an idiot. This can pertain to us or to someone else. and we assume she’s unhappy with the last report we submitted. but our progress has absolutely nothing to do with me. Rather than freely choosing to do something. “The foundation officer is ignoring me because she hates me.
ever get a date again. jumping to conclusions. I don’t know why either of them turned me down. Type of irrational thought(s): Overgeneralization. either supporting their validity or suggesting that they are distorted? (See example below. Now that I think about it. I’ll never. she thinks I’m a dork. Below are some suggestions for getting started. . 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. Automatic thought(s): This always happens to me! Like all other women. 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.NAKED IDEALISM Making use of the above knowledge to improve our thinking requires practice.) 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. five women have agreed to go out with me at least once over the last year. Evidence: This has happened to me with two other women in my life. Consider the following: • • • • What “automatic thoughts” did you have as a response to the adversity? What evidence do you have related to these thoughts.
Alternately. Just be prepared for honest feedback. Do you notice any patterns in your thinking? Step two: Over a two-week period. rather than doing so every several days. keep track of the same information for at least one instance per day when you are frustrated or angry. you’ll become better at catching yourself. you may wish to draw several rows on a sheet of notebook paper to record this information.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Repeat this with one or two other times when you faced adversity. as in the sample above. and don’t shoot the messenger. After several days of tracking. This works best when you take a few moments each day to record information. consider asking a friend or loved one what types of irrational or automatic thoughts you tend to have. make an attempt to “catch” yourself at the time you’re having an irrational thought. Over time.com under Books/Naked Idealism (use the password “authentic” to access the downloadable tools link). As you record your instance(s) for that day. draw a star (or symbol of your choice) next to any that you corrected on the spot. Take note of how many stars you accumulate over a week or two. If you have difficulty spotting yours. Show them the list of irrational thought types outlined earlier to give them some ideas. . and you’ll improve your ability to describe your current reality more accurately. you can make copies of the blank form that follows this exercise description. and correct your thinking on the spot. For each situation. or access a printable version at idealistcoach. This should be someone who knows you well. around whom you’ve been upset or angry at least a few times. and how much they increase from day to day. Step three: Catching and identifying our own irrational thoughts can be quite challenging.
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 .
In some cases. “It looks like there are tire tracks on it. Ohio. the road doesn’t look so bad. even before moving toward a plant-based lifestyle. looked back ahead. and sighed simultaneously. however. “Well. So try not to worry too much.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Real-life lesson: A boat-car between two trees Sometimes. we had arrived at the entrance to the unpaved road leading through the woods to the lake. a spacious boat of a vehicle that was perfect for cargo-heavy excursions. Large. off we went with anticipation of adventure! Half an hour later. everything does work out. you’ll be fine. Thus. Chaz. wanting to know if I’d like to take a trip to nearby Sites Lake with him and three of his younger siblings. In most cases. While I was never that crazy about fishing.” . his first high school car. it’s about a 10-minute walk to the lake. 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.” Jay observed. and relatively low to the ground. 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. had a lot of it. I’ve always enjoyed spending time in nature. A few moments of silence followed. Mansfield. Jay was the only one familiar with the area. the adversity may seem to border the realm of absurdity. everything seems to go wrong. from here.” “What?” came whining from the back seat. “You know. I was quite excited when my friend Jay called me one sunny summer Saturday afternoon. despite our most valiant efforts. it’s not that far. Following a slight readjustment of the trunk contents to accommodate my pole and tackle box. heavy. Gas mileage and pollution weren’t widespread concerns back then. “But I don’t want to have to carry all this stuff!” “Oh.” “NooOOOOoooo! You should have told us!” Jay and I exchanged glances. Jay pulled up to our house in his Cutlass Oldsmobile. Apparently room had run out by the time the kitchen sink begged to come along. where I grew up. guys. it was not a car you’d want to drive on bumpy terrain unless absolutely necessary.
“Are we almost there yet?” “Getting there!” “Ewww. we had been driving relatively slowly. Dave” he emphasized. who farted?” “You guys calm down back there!” “Aaagh. taken a few random bites out of the sides. This is going to take some teamwork. as though I expected to have a better chance at persuading them. awaiting a response from me. “I think we’ll be fine!” A few sighs of relief and a small cheer emanated from the back seat. The initial part of the trail was relatively smooth and flat riding. but aren’t those probably from off-road vehicles?” I replied. and laid it down amidst the trees to melt into a dark brown goo. so there was hope. The squirrels. guys. deer and other wilderness residents had soon joined us in listening to Def Leppard. “I really do think we’ll be fine. Soon. “Okay. We all climbed out of the car to survey the situation.” “How are we going to–“ “We’ll be fine!” . It was like a giant had licked a massive chocolate bar. and the front bumper had met a tree before the car slid too far down the gentle but very muddy slope. What’s happening? Why are you steering like that?” “We’re sliding off the trail!” “What?” “Hold on!” “Aaaaaaagh!” Fortunately. “It’s yo-o-o-ur car!” I enunciated in one last plea for reason. the trail began to tilt to the left slightly. I knew the confident tone of someone who had already firmly established their vision and next action steps in their mind. The back wheels were still on the trail. hoping to sway my friend from attempting a likely disaster. I shifted my gaze from the glovebox to my own feet as I said this. although somewhat muddy and slick from recent rains.NAKED IDEALISM “Yeah.
Thus. and then at our feet. Again and again and again. and excepting a few close calls. So off we went! The remainder of the afternoon was much more relaxing. Jay and I looked at each other blankly. Upon seeing our plight and clearly straining to hold back laughter. even the most absurd cases of adversity have a way of getting worked out. . the trip back went much more smoothly.” Just when all hope had begun to sink into the slippery mud. glanced back and forth at Jay and me. as though they might have a response. chasing it in vain. what had halted the vehicle was a second tree. the glorious boat-car was trapped on the slope between two trees. pulling. With our unintended assistance. As you can see. with the combined clearance on both sides totaling just over a foot. they agreed to help. The car was now parallel to the trail. momentarily quiet. around which the car had rotated like a second hand. The tree against the front bumper was like the center of a clock face. we were set on going to the lake.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED I don’t recall the exact sequence of events that followed. two men driving a true off-road vehicle approached us from the opposite direction. and Trey. pushing. The two men explained that this seemed to be the only “tricky” section of trail. When your progress seems to get lodged between two trees on a muddy hill. It took some skillful maneuvering to avoid the trees. We didn’t go directly home as one might expect–after all that trouble. stopping after 15 seconds. Chaz. “Hmmmm. the result reflected something quite less than the sum of our valiant efforts. perhaps expecting some words of profound wisdom. the back end of the car had also meandered down the slope. you’re likely to get back on the trail eventually. In the end. grunting and shouting. To make matters more interesting. Sonja. Our vision had apparently escaped us as we slid about in the slick mud. several feet downhill. which was now immediately behind the rear bumper. 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.
we can return to them with a renewed mindset and additional resources. our likelihood of making additional progress will be greater. Sometimes once we’ve made our visions known to the world. This may result in continued confusion as to whether it’s really worth it. as we determine what steps are actually required. They are decisions to shift our time and energy to things that have become more important to us. and what we are and are not willing to do to achieve certain ends. So that we don’t lose confidence. Deborah Du Nann Winter advises environmental advocates to maintain an optimistic attitude. It may reflect superficial “should” values.108 This may be good advice for all of us. I decided that I needed to temporarily withdraw most of my energy from the safe sidewalk vision discussed earlier. We can usually resume pursuit of our unattained vision later if we determine it is still a priority.NAKED IDEALISM Managing unattained visions As discussed earlier. they are merely choices we have made in light of our circumstances. we sometimes realize that we no longer wish to pursue a vision. and choose to alter or abandon our vision rather than adopt new strategies. we must recognize that vision abandonments aren’t failures reflecting upon our own worth or abilities–rather. or as we actively begin to pursue them. They can provide opportunities to learn about how we truly prioritize our values. they will attract energy and opportunities even when we’ve shifted our regular attention away from them. Since then. When I shift some of my attention back to that in the future. 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. This may occur as we define our visions more clearly. It may be driven by core values that we haven’t yet clarified. Later. but also to avoid dependency upon achieving all of one’s goals–especially those that may take longer than one lifetime. For example. If we find ourselves in a pattern of frequent failure to achieve a particular goal or vision. . so that I could devote more to completing this book. We may face more adversity than expected. a few additional people have kindly offered their ideas and willingness to assist. we may need to ask ourselves how important it really is to us.
from a position with little decisionmaking authority to one with great responsibility. short-term visions and concrete action steps. however. Upon assessing my values. the prospect of greater complexity may be overwhelming at first. given the type of life I desired. Leaving school. we may quickly become discouraged. I’ve always done very well in academic settings. I experienced a similar feeling when I transitioned from predefined jobs to my own consulting and coaching businesses. With a large number of interests and concerns about the world. playing by the rules and figuring out what needed to be done. Additionally. For example. or from a structured organization to our own self-defined business. . and the desire to have someone else bear the responsibility for setting the direction. I would need tools for simplifying some of the complexity. I vacillated between the desire to have freedom to set my own direction. It was suddenly up to me to call the shots. They are not alone. or may be in the midst of doing so. What happens. Even if we have already been extremely successful with smaller visions and action steps. and we suddenly become responsible for doing more of this ourselves. as even the most driven overachievers can stumble here. however. You or someone you know may have already wrestled with such a shift. This includes shifting from school to paid employment. Pursuing Larger Visions The framework we’ve discussed so far works well with relatively simple. I felt somewhat lost upon having a more open slate. 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. I realized that I had to accept this responsibility.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED 15. I wasn’t sure where to begin. to establish the larger visions. 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.
and so on. Renovate building.000 per year in profit after splitting it with the co-owner. Building of current café very inefficient and poorly constructed.000 in startup costs saved. 1. Locate neighborhood and site by Nov. 1. additional breaking down of the action steps might be needed so we don’t become overwhelmed.NAKED IDEALISM As an example of a more complex vision. 1. Located in a neighborhood with second highest crime rate in city. Take a moment to consider a relatively complex . I make $50. I work an average of 40 hours per week. with seating capacity of 50. As you can see. Eco-friendly construction. Hire and train staff. Ten different vegan entrees and five vegan desserts offered each week. Only one vegan entrée and dessert offered. I make $25.000 per year in profit. Initial action steps • • • • • • Save $20. coordinating with the city zoning board.000 in additional funding for startup costs by Oct. I work 60 hours per week. and a $10. This might involve some relatively large action steps. 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. the “renovate building” step alone may require a great deal of planning time. suppose that we wish to create our city’s first vegan restaurant. Located in a popular business district near other amenities. hiring of tradespeople.000 plot of land I can sell. Plan menu. Five hundred customers are served each week. I have $20. Purchase building by Dec. as illustrated below. For example.
Fritz devised a technique called telescoping. In the below illustration from Elkin. in which we convert each action step into its own detailed vision. The upwards-pointing arrows simply represent the movement toward vision from current reality via the action steps. the sideways arrows show the conversion of action steps to visions.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED result you wish to create that has very large initial action steps. In our restaurant example. each of the five action steps (raise $20. 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 . and so on) can be converted into its own second-level vision. along with a corresponding current reality and set of smaller action steps. To accomplish this feat. renovate the building.000 in additional funding for startup costs. Figure 14: The Structure of Telescoping From Elkin (2003). How will you begin? How might you simplify everything? Following is one promising approach. locate a neighborhood and site.
NAKED IDEALISM own corresponding current reality and action steps. The diagram below illustrates the telescoping process with just one of the primary-level action steps. the order of initial action steps. we may also see a need to adjust deadlines we’ve put on our action steps. and so on. The action steps below it are somewhat smaller and manageable. Anticipating such needs can save us a significant amount of effort later. The process is again repeated for second-level action steps that need to be broken out into further detail. As we begin to expand our plan and understand the true amount of effort involved. However. . locating a neighborhood and site. Note how the action step is converted into a corresponding description of a desired end result. Some of the remaining primary-level action steps will also need to be telescoped out. even some of the second-level action steps such as “obtain market data” could use additional simplification via further telescoping.
. 2003.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Figure 15: Telescoping Applied to Creating a Vegan Restaurant Illustration concept adapted from Elkin.
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. how this differs from current reality. The details of visions and current realities are truncated for simplification. . They’ll be free to adjust their own specific set of action steps as necessary while creating the vision for which they’re responsible. Note how the action steps are again telescoped out to create second-level visions. they’ll be less likely to make any decisions incompatible with that bigger vision. another person to hire the staff. 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. we should be able to avoid the risk of micromanaging. another person to renovate the building. The telescoping model can be utilized to divide work on complex visions among a number of groups. In the example above. For example. and what some of the initial action steps are. we might hire one person to locate a site. Each group can work individually on one of the secondary visions (or lower-level visions. depending upon how far we need to telescope out) that support the primary vision. perhaps with the input of the manager we’ve designated. If they’re clear on what we want for the final result. Generated a description of current reality corresponding to each new second-level vision. • Generated initial action steps for each new second-level vision/reality pair. and so on. and how a corresponding description of current reality and set of action steps is generated for each of them.NAKED IDEALISM Working in groups If we wish to create large-scale positive change. we’re particularly likely to require others’ assistance. If they understand how their piece of the puzzle fits into the overarching primary vision.
and objectives. and the realists emphasize the ways in which the current conditions must be factored into the picture.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Figure 16: Telescoping Also Works with Groups When working in groups. activists. the activists desire to move forward and just start getting things done as soon as possible. and realists. 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. goals. It also helps to have an awareness of each team member’s characteristics of authentic self. including their top strengths and what they most value. 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. each corresponding to a part of the creative tension framework: visionaries. Recall Williamson and Eakes’ suggestion that some people are more oriented toward vision. 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. they’ll also keep one another in check–once they’re clear upon the final destination. While they may experience friction at times. This will help . Elkin suggests that there are actually three types of individuals.
.NAKED IDEALISM to ensure that they enjoy their work and maximize their contribution to achieving the vision.
109 Earlier we discussed prioritizing our values as a way to help in creating visions and making decisions. we’re choosing to support our larger visions. Elkin similarly explains that exercising our freedom to choose is a core element in the creative process. or denying ourselves things because we have no other option. The source of choice is internal and personal. suppose that we have a larger vision of visiting all seven continents over the next five years. Similarly. but know that the expense will mean putting off our dream vacation for at least a year. we don’t need to feel as though we’re doing things because we have to. but a proactive response from a place of values. Returning to the car purchase example. As much as we crave the . For example. With such a framework in mind. Covey notes that true choice is not a reactive response to external stimuli. this seems to complicate matters. wishing or even affirming. Intentionally choosing the visions or end results that we create. At first. suppose that we really want to purchase a new car. This is where it helps to have a hierarchy of what is most important to us. Rather. It allows us to see how our day-to-day decisions support our larger visions. we may find ourselves at points where we must choose between more than one priority or direction. having a structure of “nested visions” via telescoping helps us to make choices. he writes. A second-level vision supporting this is a trip to Australia in only six months.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED 16. Which Vision First? Determining Priorities Exercising choice As we begin to work toward making our visions a reality. is much more powerful than simply wanting.
we want to allocate sufficient time for actions that will yield desired end results. popular activities. Important and not urgent: Prevention. without it feeling like a sacrifice.110 By consistently seeking opportunities to live some of our core values. of course. pressing matters. it’s helpful to categorize incoming requests for our time so that we can create space for the important activities. we can utilize what Elkin calls “foundation choices. and meetings. we develop deeper integrity. recognizing new opportunities. Covey’s time management matrix Vision and values hierarchies work well alongside the four-category “time management matrix” proposed by Covey. Not important but urgent: Interruptions. This depends. pleasant activities. In both our work and non-work lives. Alternately. planning. upon how highly we value the car. In addition to nested visions. Thus.NAKED IDEALISM car. Those who spend their . For purposes of our discussion. This will require saying “no” to some of the unimportant activities– including some of those that are unimportant and urgent. reports. relationship building. keeping in mind what is most important to us is vital. Returning to the car purchase example. Not important and not urgent: Trivia.” akin to choosing core values that we focus on each day. busy work. some mail and phone calls. both non-urgent and urgent. mail.111 where he divides our time into four types of activities. improving/developing productive capability. 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. we can choose to pursue a less expensive car to support our larger vision. we realize that putting off Australia also means putting off our larger vision. that relate to our visions. we can choose to find a way to make both the car and the trip happen. proximate. When planning our daily activities. some calls. recreation. deadline-driven projects. important means relating to our visions and priority values: • • Important and urgent: Crises. • • Every day. time wasters. pressing problems.
Consider those that relate to your larger visions for the community and world. Which are you currently prioritizing? Have you moved forward on the bigger picture items alongside merely putting out fires? If not. keep track of how many important versus unimportant goals you have completed. you’ll connect with more people whose larger visions relate to yours.” and can be eliminated. Over the course of a week. reacting to external stimuli.112 The latter naturally feel more pressing. place them into one of the above four categories on your “to do” list. different colors. Those who focus only upon urgent activities are generally very crisis-driven. but may rarely realize their visions. they may sometimes enjoy a “pleasant life” but not a meaningful or fulfilled life. Keep in mind that we’re all in this together! . even if they don’t initially seem to tie into your more concrete visions. Thus. Don’t forget to include the next few action steps related to your visions on your list. You might use different labels.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED time only on unimportant activities may remain consistently busy. As Pausch notes in his time management lecture. because someone wants them done now. 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. to use Seligman’s language from Part I. 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). Or. They may spend little time proactively planning or creating visions. or different portions of the page–whatever works best for you. The real trick is addressing the not urgent but important items before we worry about the urgent but not important items. delegated. where do you seem to be putting most of your efforts? Which of your to-do items are nonessential “clutter. As you evaluate demands for your time. to keep them at the front of your mind. even the most important deadline-driven projects they work on are not as likely to link into their own larger visions. delayed. As you live more authentically.
you can revisit the life wheel and rescore yourself to track your progress and overall satisfaction. here. you might wish to focus on another. how smoothly would your life wheel roll if it were real? How efficiently would you travel.com under Books/Naked Idealism (use the password “authentic” to access the downloadable tools link). Examine the overview of your life satisfaction you’ve just created. Given its new outer edge. 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. or simply leave it unused. 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. Use the “other” wedge for whatever life dimension you wish. There. dimensions included four areas of personality.” 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. (I’ve also posted a printable version of the below wheel at idealistcoach. • • • • . Life coaches often ask clients to do this with the assistance of a “life wheel” or “coaching mandala. draw a new outer edge for each wedge. With the center of the wheel representing “0” (completely unsatisfied) and the outer edge “10” (perfectly satisfied). Over time.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. After you substantially improve one dimension of your life. dimensions refer to various areas of our life.
PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Figure 17: Life Wheel–Blank114 (completed example on next page) .
followed by intimacy/romance. While many of the dimensions in the wheel pertain to our individual life and immediate community. as illustrated by the lines drawn near the center. friends/community. and home/physical environment. They appear to be the least satisfied with health and appearance. Figure 18: Life Wheel–Completed Example . This is denoted by the lines drawn nearest the outside edge. finances. a few connect us to the larger community or world.NAKED IDEALISM The example of a completed life wheel below suggests a person who is the most satisfied in the areas of career/work.
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.g. Earlier we discussed how we sometimes attempt to meet needs indirectly. Does this sound like anyone you know? If you find visual representations helpful. you can also extend the life wheel to organize some of your short. 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 .PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED As you examine the results of your life wheel assessment. For example. but this will likely leave other dimensions out of balance. as modern technology has enabled us to become more geographically disperse. Because of this. we may rely increasingly upon our jobs to meet other needs such as friendship and belonging. e.. This can easily happen with other dimensions as well.115 We may thus spend more time at work. consider whether there are any areas where you’re attempting to utilize one domain to compensate for another. and highly mobile careers may leave us little time to establish close relationships in our communities. believing that greater financial wealth will help us to obtain friendship. many of us have become distant from our families.and long-term visions with timeframes.
Extend the spokes of the life wheel out through these additional circles. sheet of paperboard. Or. An easel pad. a romantic partner or team member.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. you might list “my first book” as something you want to create within one year in the “career/work” dimension. each of you can write on the same sheet in a different color or use separate sheets of paper. Do what works best for you. If doing the latter. e. If you’re doing the exercise with one or more other people so that you can compare notes. If you’re looking at the nearer term. even including a 30-year circle. make sure that the life dimensions and concentric time frame circles are arranged identically so you can visually compare them. Each additional circle represents a point further into the future.. but only over the next six months. e. including both your shortterm and long-term visions.g. six-month. three-month. • • • • • . one-year and two-year circles may be useful. leaving several inches of writing room between each circle. You might wish to pick only three or four life dimensions and focus primarily on those.g.. and “a painted dining room” as something you want to create within three months in the “home/physical environment” dimension. (Recycling is good!) As illustrated below. Depending upon how large your sheet of paper is. draw additional concentric “vision timeframe” circles outside the life wheel. Write brief descriptions of the visions or creations you wish to achieve into the corresponding life dimension/timeframe spaces. you can go as far into the future as you wish. You don’t need to fill in all the spaces. or even a sheet of cardboard from an unfolded box will work. you might wish to focus on a larger number of dimensions. For example.
at a time when you’re too busy to outline it in detail. Start by taking off your clothes and finding a paper and pen. Just kidding! The life wheel exercises above are likely to generate many additional ideas for things you wish to create. Because these moments of inspiration sometimes yield the best ideas. the concept of a “naked idea list for naked idealists” was inevitable. you may wish to record the basic elements so you . Occasionally.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.
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. The possibilities are numerous.com under Books/Naked Idealism (use the password “authentic” to access the downloadable tools link). I have described some of them on my blog at idealistcoach. If you wish to save paper. You might choose to sort your ideas by near-term versus long-term visions. organizing. This can assist with selecting and prioritizing which visions to pursue at a given time. writing “completion dates” at the top so that important things don’t slip by.NAKED IDEALISM don’t forget them forever. select a vision that corresponds to it. You could enter a reminder for yourself in your paper or computer-based planner. Then. when you feel that one particular dimension of your life is in need of a boost. and acting upon different areas of your life. I have also posted printable templates at idealistcoach. The sample template on the following page lists items that you might wish to include on your naked idea list cards.com. You might even choose to sort them by life dimensions using color coding. just type into the downloadable Word template and maintain various ideas on your computer. There are also a number of computer-based systems that assist in visualizing. .
50 yrs.. family. values. 6 mos. fun/recreation. other _______________ Completion date: ________________________ Dimension of life (circle one or more): appearance. health. Put it in the present tense. 1-2 mos. etc.?): Time frame (circle one): 1-2 wks. 10 yrs. how it feels to be experiencing your completed creation. home/physical envt. society/world. etc. 20 yrs. other _________________ . giving/serving. spiritual. strip it of any judgment or constraints of current reality. friends/community.e. and make it as “naked” as possible–i. personal dev.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED “Naked Idea List” Card Name of my creation: Detailed vision: Describe what your creation looks like. 5 yrs.. 1 yr. intimacy/romance. Why I want it (How does it link into purpose.. career/work.
Linking Personal & Community Visions When our visions involve significant community or global change. Figure 20: Covey’s Circles of Concern and Influence From Covey (1989). I’ve sometimes felt like I was taking baby steps in quicksand. we may have difficulty grasping how we’re making a difference.”116 In other words. Covey helped me to shed some light on this. In my own idealist jobs.NAKED IDEALISM 17. we worry about much more than we can currently control. as he discusses the tendency of some to have a “circle of concern” that is much greater than our current “circle of influence. . A basic graphic depiction of this concept is below. and how our everyday endeavors link into the big picture.
” However.PART III: DOING THINGS NAKED Even if we cannot immediately impact our entire circle of concern. the language we use can help us to advance toward our desired results. . we could make connections that also begin to expand our circle of influence. 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. if we instead say the following.” “I wish I could have a greater impact on global warming. but they do not explicity state actions that we can take to get there: • • • “If only I had a degree. While most of us are not in a position to change the attitudes and behaviors of these leaders directly. This may influence them. which we can control through our language. we perceive them as existing only within our circle of concern.” See the difference? This also aligns well with the organizing framework of this book.e. For example. Through taking these actions. When expressing our concerns. also governs our level of influence. within our circle of influence: • • • “I can be studious. i.. For example. the following are just concerns. then we are implying actions that are within our control. We can ask some of our neighbors and friends to write letters as well. If we utilize a form of the verb be. Our perception. we will slowly expand our circle of influence to include a greater proportion of our circle of concern. They communicate a desired outcome. By doing so.” “I will be proactive in career planning.” “I wish I had a different job. we can focus our efforts upon the smaller area where we can currently make a difference. where being and doing precede having in the process of increasing our effectiveness. we can still write to our Senators or Representatives to express our concern. Covey suggests that if we describe our desired results with a form of the verb have. they also fall within our circle of influence.” “I am an involved citizen. and they may pass our opinions up the line.
but I still wanted more connection between my everyday activities and larger world issues that seemed to beg for attention–it still felt overwhelming. those with elements still beyond our current circle of influence) into more immediate and concrete visions (i.NAKED IDEALISM Covey’s ideas opened my eyes further. Below we see how Fritz and Covey’s concepts overlap. Figure 21: Fritz and Elkin Meet Covey: Connecting Current Influence to Larger Concerns117 .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..e.. those within our current circle of influence). It allows us to break down large and complex visions (i.
. Now we don’t have to wonder whether we are having an impact on the bigger picture. we expand our circle of influence. We’re less likely to feel that we’re neglecting one important area for the sake of another. and we’re less likely to feel like we’re vacillating between our personal wants and our visions for the larger community or world. addressing greater areas of our circle of concern. we can still be assured that we are working toward them. As we move to higher levels of visions.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.
Possessing implies clinging or T .”118 Again. It is the ability to allow and accept things and people into our lives. which equates having to possessing. this is likely a different definition than you’re accustomed to. 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.
Only then will we be exercising naked idealism. which consumes energy and can make us unavailable to receive other things. she buys her sulking brother a year’s supply of microwave popcorn. Only then will we truly see and appreciate one another’s authentic selves.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY holding onto something. It’s a perfect catch! The action is over before Tommy can even get his popcornfilled hand out of the bag. famed batter John Homer hits a record-breaking homerun ball directly toward the siblings! With both her hands free. Part IV provides some broader guidelines for living as we move forward in the process of creating. Sally ignores her strong urge to heel Tommy in the shin and decides to enjoy the game. much of the stadium roars in laughter at the squirrel-cheeked boy next to her on the jumbotron video screen. As Covey notes. . insists that Sally let him hold the popcorn. As with doing. If we wish to create an authentic. Out of pity. Suddenly. Whereas Part III provided a framework or toolbox useful for a range of creations. sustainable life and world. Tommy. “being in relationship. Which sibling has been more successful at having? The following sections cover several concepts related to having. Sally later sells the ball on eBay and raises enough money to pay for her first year of college.119 Or.” Idealists must take additional care to interact honestly and encourage change without alienating ourselves and others. highlighting points where idealists are particularly likely to struggle. watching a baseball game. to return to Gawain’s words. He won’t share any of it with her. While cheering for Sally. Following a moment of anger. Imagine two adolescent siblings sitting side-by-side in a stadium. mastery of having requires practice. Sally quickly reacts. keeping his hand thrust into the bag and stuffing his mouth full until his cheeks bulge. very greedy. “Ith aww mine! You can’t haff any!” he slobberingly blurts through the halfchewed popcorn. we are most effective when we “synergize” with others: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. and finally to interdependence. He discusses his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People in the context of moving from dependence to independence. effectively relating to other people and things is extremely important. Prepare for a final have-alanche of information. reaching out to grab it just inches from meeting Tommy’s nose.
affection. The opposite of an abundance mindset. everyone fights for as much as they can get.121 we engage in behavior that is competitive. 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.NAKED IDEALISM 18. money. perhaps because we frequently devote our time and energy to people and causes with relatively few resources. rather than “thinking win-win” as many experts advise. results in what economists call “fixed pie” interactions between individuals and groups. Because there appears to be only so much to go around (limited pieces to the pie). scarcity thinking. encourages more competitive behavior among others. as noted earlier. many of us. If one side gets more.122 This. land. in turn. However. Abundance Versus Scarcity Thinking This seems to be an area where those in idealist professions often have great difficulty. and so on) to sustain most of us quite comfortably. 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. This area has been particularly challenging for me as well. Often this is because. creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. overly materialistic and destructive on many levels. wealthy and poor alike.120 As a result. then it seems to mean that . we are attempting to fulfill our needs indirectly. fail to recognize this and become insecure about our ability to survive among the perceived competition. The Law of Abundance holds that there are plenty of resources in the world (food.
one with a large jar of peanut butter. neither side can benefit from additional resources or complementary strengths that the other may have to offer. and one with a large jar of jelly. so to speak. one with a large loaf of bread. try listing two or three people whom you currently view as competitors. or increasing the size of the entire pie via cooperation. Nobody gets a sandwich. and consider one or two ways that relating to them could be mutually beneficial. you might consider positive aspects of your physical and mental well being. are thus greatly decreased. Sit down and spend some time making a list of them. so no one perceives any incentive to help anyone else. Make additional efforts to revisit your list whenever you find yourself entering a scarcity mindset. . a co-worker who always seems to be vying for attention from your boss. The odds of creating more for everyone. you could list several aspects of your friendships that you appreciate. different forms of giving can also yield abundanceproducing benefits. Out of mistrust. If intimacy is a core value. and will remind you of all the things that the world has already provided. they refuse to share with one another. 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.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY the other side must get less. Consequently. Count your blessings.123 Imagine three hungry children in a kitchen. This should help in maintaining a positive mindset. If health is high on your values list. This could include a business competitor. As we’ll discuss next. or even a relative who always talks over you at family gatherings. If you wish to go a step further. and revisit a few each morning or evening–even once a week can be helpful.
I’m not referring to large and expensive gifts. or in our dayto-day interactions with friends and family. or even our mere presence. of expressing and energizing our relationships. while the latter set me on a path that opened my eyes to the diversity and complexity of the world. and the meaningful life–and how the deepest and most lasting . Giving may consist of sharing time. money. talents. For example. the engaging life. Sue Dockter displayed exceptional devotion as one of my high school English teachers.” two complementary forces that must be kept in balance. analysis of literature. 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. as the effects may be delayed by years. The former enhanced my writing significantly. and incorporation of creativity into our writing. energy. Furthermore. It is one of the most powerful ways we have of connecting with the world. in our volunteer activities. By giving. This book incorporates elements of both experiences. It can occur in any area of our life: at work. She encouraged countless students to realize our full potential in our use of grammar. We often have no way of anticipating what impacts our giving will have. but various forms of wealth that we can share with others every day. she introduced me to the world of private boarding schools. Giving Gawain refers to giving and receiving as “outflow” and “inflow.NAKED IDEALISM 19. Without Sue’s giving. the pages before you might not exist today. a very different type of learning environment that I probably would not have discovered on my own.
may occur through a variety of mechanisms. and it may stimulate parts of the brain associated with meeting basic needs. into late adulthood. 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 . giving is a way to connect with others authentically while increasing our happiness. Giving gets even better: outside of providing personal fulfillment. it has a few other important benefits. if two families are otherwise equal except for one giving $100 more than the other to charity over a specific year. may enable us to have greater impact in the world. it can actually improve our health and longevity.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY fulfillment comes from recognizing and living our values and strengths. For example. enables us to forgive ourselves for our own mistakes. For one. Living our values and using our strengths involves putting them into the world. in turn. Giving increases our feelings of self-efficacy. These impacts. Could your life benefit from such changes? Focusing more specifically upon monetary giving for a moment. Brooks cites potential mechanisms for this: charitable behavior may increase the odds that we’ll be elevated to leadership positions. allows us to forget about the stressors in our own lives. Having more money and influence. economic research by Arthur Brooks suggests that individuals and families who give more also grow wealthier. the giving effect also appears to stimulate the economy at the societal level. and enhances our sense of being part of a supportive larger community. or giving! Thus.125 It’s not just a one-way relationship where individuals who already happen to have more money also give more. 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. Giving and helping others reduces mortality in older adults. creating even greater benefits for everyone. the more giving family will earn $375 more on average. they note. Better yet. it’s that more giving actually results in greater wealth. and depression and suicide risk in adolescents.
strengths and visions should drive most of what we do. We might provide humor by sharing an entertaining story with someone who’s not feeling well. One way is through formal involvement with organizations or projects. or on a much larger scale. generativity. This can be something as simple as looking our waiter or waitress directly in the eye and thanking them.NAKED IDEALISM behavior. and creativity. or by maintaining a website with jokes that bring others laughter each day. Following I provide examples for each: • • • • • Celebration might include sending a thank-you card or throwing a birthday party for someone. 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.” Another way is through simply letting our authentic self show in our day-to-day interactions. there are myriad ways to share our talents or services with others. Post and Neimark explain that we can give in at least 10 possible ways: celebration. “If you don’t have money. As Tom Baker suggests in Get Involved! Making the Most of Your 20s and 30s. loyalty. On a smaller scale. and letting them know we’d like to forget about the past. minimizing consumption of products that cause suffering to humans or other animals. Again broadening our focus beyond monetary giving. give your sweat equity. Courage and confrontation could include directly addressing a family member about a habit that’s harmful to them or to others. This could include mentoring a young adult. forgiveness. courage and confrontation. this could include hugging a friend who is under great stress. humor.” can be given in many ways. which Post describes as “love’s response to suffering. respect. Generativity involves nurturing others in a way that enables them to develop and grow. listening. We can give respect by treating others as equals regardless of the setting. • • . However. We might show forgiveness by scheduling a lunch date with someone who previously wronged us. because our purpose. Compassion. values. compassion.
friends. and a little desire to give can go a very long way. acquired an old carillon–a musical instrument utilizing a keyboard to play bells. A friend in boarding school had a crush on a girl in the dorm next door. some creativity. Even though Jim is retired from paid work. with attendees sometimes flying in from other states. and also wished to benefit charitable causes. The possibilities for sharing our energy with the world are quite diverse. but we all had a lot of fun. he spends significant time volunteering with the Red Cross and helping his brother with an ongoing project. The brothers host benefit concerts each year. we can give to four possible groups at increasing levels of breadth: family. Post further explains that for each type of giving. creativity and giving. I add a type of giving that can be combined with any of the above: taking it to the next level. I recently enjoyed an inspiring conversation with someone who blends vision. or by baking a batch of cookies for a neighbor. there are plenty of opportunities for us to give.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY • • • We can give loyalty by remaining committed to a cause that’s important to us. Many people benefit: the brothers appreciate their creation and meet many interesting people. His brother. Listening could simply entail providing our undivided attention for five minutes as a stranger on the bus tells us about their bad day. the attendees enjoy hearing the music and knowing that they’re helping a worthy cause. He became excited by the vision of having such an instrument in his yard. even when doing so may not make us popular. community. and Jim is using his technical skills to add computer automated playing. I suggest a fifth group that includes all living things. often housed in a tower. This is surprising someone by giving just a bit more than they expected. Today a carillon tower over 70 feet high stands on the property. and the charitable organizations and their customers benefit as well. A vision. and illustrates the energy that this combination can generate. or all of humanity. . 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. We can give creativity by sharing a painting or a work of music with the world. In short. who lives on a plot of land providing a reasonable sound buffer from neighbors. When she asked him to run to the store to buy her a carton of orange juice.
citing several examples of resources he had obtained through simple requests.NAKED IDEALISM 20.”126 We all know the stereotype that men don’t like to ask for directions when they’re driving. This included several interns who assisted with his endeavors tremendously. “people like to be asked for things. As previously noted. we need the help and support of others.. He highlighted the value of not being afraid to ask for things. e. Many idealists may find this difficult to grasp..127 These are just the tip of the iceberg. give. given that we often find ourselves in settings where the focus is on “give. a facilitator asked each of them to share “one most important piece of advice. when working on larger visions and causes.” One panelist worked in a particularly challenging and resource-strapped school system environment. Representing a range of public. private and nonprofit sector jobs. we must also know how to ask and receive. our fear of asking may extend into various other areas of our lives. 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. via salary increases. As a final question.” They often come through if you’re specific about what you need to pursue a vision. He explained that in most cases. they discussed how they had leveraged their degrees following graduate school.g. 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..” I once attended a stimulating panel discussion among alumni from my public policy and management program. give. You probably know at least one person who is fiercely . Asking & Receiving Alongside giving.
this may become less of a concern because we recognize that it’s really not about us anyway. What. but you might want to do something different.. or that we’re being too selfish? If we remain focused on our vision and purpose. Ellis offers a few guidelines:128 • • Include a timeline in your request. “I’d enjoy it if you came over to my place” rather than “I thought you might want to come over to my place. sometimes including myself. e. a date or time by which you need a response or action. I know several. 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. if anything.” Clear communication is key.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY independent and takes pride in going it alone. even while they’re usually insistent upon helping others. Are we shy about asking for “favors” for fear that we’re not really worthy. do we perceive it as a sign of weakness.g.” Use a requesting rather than a demanding tone. and question their validity. they enable others to respond to our requests more authentically and easily. and they make . voicing appreciation for their consideration no matter what their decision is. or a suggested modification of the task or timeline that you could accept or decline–but in the end. do we believe that accepting help says about us? For example. This could be a simple “yes” or “no” to your original request. We’re not being selfish at all. i. It’s about something larger and more important. • • • As Ellis notes. State your request cleanly and clearly. 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.. of being less capable? As we consider people we know who are very capable and successful in the world. these practices do not merely serve our self-interests. saying.e. both parties understand what is agreed upon. that we’ll be unable to return the favors. because we’re probably not the only ones who will benefit. Thank them. It is also important to be aware of how we ask for things. Politely seek clarification for wishy-washy responses such as a “maybe.
This can occur even when others attempt to give us little things. consider the last time you helped someone in a way you know made a difference. For example. 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. right? Going back to the statement of the school system panelist. many people allow their canine companions to run freely along the trails. This is particularly the case in light of the earlier evidence that giving may even benefit physical health. the guardian seemed oblivious. Considering what we know about punishment being much less effective than positive reinforcement. I was recently jogging through a Pittsburgh park that is also very popular with dog walkers.” . Often. Taking this a step further. I just shook my head and continued the jog toward home. it is not surprising that many people ignore the signs warning of a $300 fine for unleashed dogs. I realized that I probably hadn’t inspired any positive change at all. “Please take care of your friend and use a leash!” Moments later. However. let’s consider what may happen when we remain closed to receiving anything from others. but they didn’t ask you or refused to accept anything from you. Think about a time you really wanted to help someone or give them something. not burdening them. we may actually be doing them a favor. When we refuse offers of assistance from others. they may feel rejected as well.NAKED IDEALISM others more comfortable asking for things in return. like a compliment or a thank you. By allowing ourselves to receive from others. or felt slightly rejected or offended. right? Perhaps you even took it a little personally. I had probably simply deepened someone’s stereotype of “those annoying joggers. How did that make you feel? Probably a little frustrated. we fear that we’re placing a burden upon them. Engrossed in a conversation on her cell phone. Despite the presence of two off-leash dog areas. Effective communication is a vital component of naked idealism. After calming my mind. I heard the barks of a much smaller dog I had passed slightly earlier. 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. I shouted loudly and angrily at her. people often like to be asked for things. We might address our hesitation to ask and receive by examining our assumptions of how others feel when we ask for something.
such as keeping my ego separate from desired results.” Nonetheless. and working the paper towel dispenser. For a few moments my mind had returned to problem-solving mode. Do you by chance take Visa?” . she had invalidated my expression of gratitude whether she intended to or not. one of my little pet peeves that friends find humorous. I decided to attempt a new strategy: positively envision a safe and pleasant park for everyone who uses it. as I was passing a woman with two dogs near the park’s exit. expecting tips.” I felt the smile automatically disappear from my face. “So what!” I thought to myself. or was it simply that she felt guilty and unable to accept my gratitude? It’s impossible to say. for example. The lesson here is that it’s often best just to accept small gifts like expressions of gratitude. “She’s only one out of hundreds of people who use this park. I was not at all prepared for her prompt response: “Don’t thank me. Take. while searching my pockets for a tip. from an eagerly outstretched hand. this new strategy has made the experience more enjoyable for me. as this can make a large impact upon our relationships with others. exceptions to when we’ll want to receive from people. however. “Thank you for using leashes.P. It may just be one of my quirks. I turned to her with a smile and delivered my usual.129 Although I admire the attendants’ entrepreneurial nature and empathize with their likely economic plight. “Looks like I’m out of change. of course. I often feel uncomfortable in restrooms where an unofficial attendant is turning the water on and off for everyone. and delivered what felt like a slap in the face. I really appreciate it. There are. 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. Did she intend to express to me that she had no intentions of using leashes regularly and didn’t care about my opinion. as I’ve gotten some smiles and remarks of gratitude from others. One day. I reminded myself of concepts discussed elsewhere in this book. I fear the day that I stand up from a toilet to retrieve a square of T. Overall. and quickly turned to keep running. I don’t use them that often.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY Thus. and employ strategies like warmly thanking people who are using leashes. entertaining less positive means of resolving the leash issue.” However. but in this particular setting it starts to feel a little bit like an invasion of my freedom and privacy.
idealists sometimes have the tendency to martyr ourselves. medical assistance. and other resources.” something kept me from speaking. but they don’t advocate for their own raises and they don’t take efforts to improve their health and stress levels. and that I simply enjoy relaxing in the company of others who share some common values. they would see that improving . Although my first instinct was to reply. Even if they didn’t seem to be saving the world with their hobby.NAKED IDEALISM Giving to ourselves Discussions on giving and receiving would not be complete without a few words on giving to ourselves. “Yes. which has at least two benefits: I’m better able to focus on the “serious” side of things when I need to.g. As mentioned earlier. I realized why I had remained silent. Lighthearted gatherings recharge me and provide me with additional energy. 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. In my graduate self-development course I witnessed several examples of this. 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. we may come to resent that our own lives are not as we wish them to be. felt additional hope and energy after giving themselves permission to engage in hobbies alongside their difficult jobs. I felt that I already spend significant time considering serious issues in the world. 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. some having spent years in idealist positions. they do an excellent job at helping their clients secure financial assistance. If we don’t allow ourselves some fun and enjoyment. As another example. Thinking about his point on the way home.. it still enabled them to give more of themselves. which in turn may make it difficult to justify our endeavors to improve others’ lives. and to take the world very seriously. 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. we should spend more time talking about such things. A few of my students. Recall the earlier quote from Ellis on how it is much easier to give from ourselves when our own cup is full.
recall an issue we discussed earlier. Real-life lesson: Bottles from Heaven You may recall the 1980 comedy The Gods Must Be Crazy. astounding residents of a remote village without modern technology. they owe it to their clients to ask for what they need..e. The viewer gets a laugh. If these leaders had been better about asking and giving to themselves. The following is based upon an entry from my Habitat for Humanity bicycle trip journal.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY their own well-being can also benefit their clients–i. In real life. and the board struggles to raise additional salary funds. you might consider a permanent vacation.. There may be components of the universe that we can’t yet perceive.e. the villagers believe it to be of divine origin. 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. comprehend. or intelligently discuss–components far more powerful than a plane flying overhead. The plot begins when a soda bottle falls from the sky. that many nonprofits have difficulty attracting new talent when their leaders retire. i. like the villagers in the film. the organizations’ clients and other stakeholders suffer. Think about the last time you took a vacation. we have only a tiny glimpse of a much larger reality. because the current ones never asked for a higher salary. many people would be better off. we’re not in the “omnipresent observer” seat as we often are when viewing movies. Instead. having witnessed the previous scene in which an airplane pilot tossed it out the window. As the most qualified candidates seek higher-paying pastures elsewhere. . Perplexed by the unfamiliar object.) Finally. however. Asking and receiving can sometimes connect in ways that challenge our perception of reality.
and awaited the train’s approach. or exhaustion. Pedaling slightly ahead so we could stop to snap pictures without delaying Cheryl too much. accident. Was it. and had signaled him to drop them. I noted a slowly growing object in the distance over Kara’s shoulder. population 800 The desert road was scorching hot. Cheryl.” As the train chugged nearer and passed. sounding a “toot-toooooot” greeting.. Cheryl. and we stopped to talk. a slow morning pace meant more distance remaining after the sun had already heated the desert for the day. As we chatted. as the Colorado landscape lent itself well to beautiful photographs.NAKED IDEALISM Dave’s Cycling Journal July 5. Given the number of water bottles we each carried. I noticed something very peculiar. As I snapped the photo. and with significant distance between towns. On a hot day like this. “Water!” shouted Jack. just behind us. giving us enough water to enjoy a leisurely ride to the next town. The engineer appeared to be holding something out of the window. Five of the six survived the impact. . didn’t look any more energetic than we did. He had apparently seen the engineer dangling the six-pack of plastic bottles. tiredly groaned. She had paused for a granola bar break. this had never posed an issue during our previous weeks of riding. “Could you guys please not take too long? I really need to fill up my water bottles in the next town. it certainly could be a problem. Unfortunately. 1997 (80-mile day) Destination: Eads. running toward the tracks. and neither did the rest of us.” She then began to dial her cell phone. Jack and I were riding particularly leisurely that day.. Colorado. and Jack and I were growing tired. we caught up with Kara. took my camera out of its protective plastic bag. having just pulled up behind us. I looked down and noted that she indeed didn’t have much water left. we’ll be all set. I saw the object drop to the ground and bounce slightly. “After I get this picture. 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. riding at the rear of the pack with a cell phone to ensure that no one became stranded alone due to a flat tire. She was serving as the “sweep” for that day.
You may have had many similar experiences or perhaps none at all. to whom? This is but one example from my life. and it seemed to manifest itself extraordinarily rapidly–in ways not explainable through traditional thinking. Are they merely coincidences? Each of us has our own set of answers to this. we later asked Cheryl whether she had communicated her request for water via the cell phone–and if so. . 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.
in elementary school I was often teased because I had a particularly high voice for a male and spoke very softly.” Ironically. cultural. but may not realize it or wish to admit it. Because they still harbor prejudice toward a particular group or groups.” Since a young age. and deliberately. sexism. In Part II we talked about the need to look past our “shoulds. or behavior seen as seeking to minimize offense to racial. If you’re reading this book.. Wikipedia describes PC or politically correct behavior as “language. classism. one of my most horrific learning experiences was becoming caught in the middle of a small-scale racial riot–more on that shortly. Transcending Our “PC Shoulds” What are “PC shoulds”? It’s time to grab the carrot by its top and dig into some tough topics. . or other identity groups. my experiences have led me to view “isms” as one of the most important part of our psyches to understand. and you are probably aware of many of your own stereotypes. policies. ideas. some of my classmates heckled those of us who didn’t pay cash because we were eligible for the free lunch program. slowly.. However. Perhaps we’ve all had experiences that have given us opportunities (if we were paying attention) to get in touch with our “isms.NAKED IDEALISM 21.the term ‘political correctness’ is used almost exclusively in a pejorative sense. In the school lunch line. but one of the most important. have we fully and truly adopted values relating to equality. speciesism. wellintentioned idealists can allow our own attitudes surrounding the “isms”–racism. and so on–to stand in our way. chances are that you generally act in a manner that promotes equality. not because they necessarily want to. During adolescence. they sometimes resent that they have to act in this manner.” PC often denotes someone acting in a manner that appears egalitarian only because they feel they have to. or do some of them still feel like “shoulds”? This is probably one of the most challenging parts of relating in a naked fashion. For example.
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. class. For example. If we are supportive of causes advancing equality. It was occasionally a bit of a facade. For example. It may serve a survival function in some settings.” we will not pursue visions with the same energy. but are simply “acting on the surface. but in our thoughts and non-public actions–is extremely important if we wish to make a positive difference in the world. as there was still some frustration pent up inside. • • Many psychologists argue that stereotyping is a natural function of the human mind. you might say that much of my behavior was politically correct. and the “isms”–not just in our visible actions. an innate mechanism for simplifying and classifying otherwise overwhelming amounts of information. we compete. 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. Rather than serving as resources to one another. sustainable. it is difficult to pursue common visions of a world where everyone enjoys a healthy. social justice. We may eventually become resentful and have difficulty sustaining our behavior. and we sometimes resent one another’s success in the world. When we are divided into segments. their family members may have learned to avoid eating any plant with purple leaves and orange polka dots–even if many of these similar- . for several reasons: • • Recognizing our “PC shoulds” is an important step in accepting ourselves. my polite exterior was not always accompanied by a prejudice-free interior. and fulfilling life.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY The pain of these experiences surrounding gender. and race taught me empathy and the importance of behaving kindly toward others. However. 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. and the “why” behind the causes we choose to pursue. if one of our ancestors died shortly after eating a plant with purple leaves and orange polka dots.
It took a few years for me to fully assimilate the experience. especially if we fail to recognize that this tendency exists. In other words. triggering our prejudices. This leads to inauthenticity and inability to sustain our good behavior because we don’t yet fully believe in what we’re doing. and to overcome the anger and confusion it stirred up. a fight broke out between two men for an unknown reason. but take a very long time to become honest with ourselves about where we stand. I recently discovered an old song that I composed and recorded a few months after the incident. Some of its ideas are still pertinent today. We will likely feel disappointed in the long run. As you read through it. This is particularly the case when we are surrounded by daily images and messages that emphasize conflict and divisions among races. our natural tendency to overgeneralize can be taken overboard. I had a new understanding of the rapid manner in which people can shift into irrational. As the large crowd exited at closing time. . genders. We may energetically set out to do good in the world. How can we maximize our progress if we haven’t yet clearly defined what we’re working toward. we act from superficial values that we haven’t yet chosen to adopt. I was visiting Ohio for my first December holiday break from boarding school. their chances of dying in a similar fashion would thus decrease. classes. and by the end of the evening. However. religions. Around age 17. 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. we’re simply looking to alleviate the negative symptoms of our internal conflict. The violence rapidly escalated. because we’re not truly striving to achieve a vision for a just world–instead. Due to their stereotyping. potentially lethal behavior. they would also miss out on many dining opportunities. Instead. and nations. and two friends and I had just spent the evening at a popular dance club.NAKED IDEALISM looking plants were quite healthy and delicious. observe your own reactions.
my heart started to pound. We knew we had to leave or we would be dead. Dwight!” My homeboy was off like a beam of light. the trouble started. not very far. But MCB got bum rushed. I was hangin’ out late the other night With my posse MCB and MC Dwight. 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. . We’ve got to stop right now. I was right behind. Right away the whole mob began to run past us As I searched left and right for MCB’s glasses. A White boy took off kickin’ at his fastest pace. He was screamin’ real loud and there was blood on his face. “Kill the whites!” “Kill the blacks!” people said. before it’s too late! Out of nowhere a gangsta big and tall Socked MCB. Chorus We are fighting brother to brother I want to sleep in bed. We wanted no trouble before we departed. not six feet under! Never saw a family with so much hate. MCB shouted.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. made his glasses fall. MCB and Dwight took off for the car. “Go get him.
Gang and racial violence just ain’t right. The types of role models our society needs Are those who see the wrong in violent deeds. he was caught In the middle of a circle of thirty Gangstas who were fightin’ real dirty. Then I looked down the parking lot And saw my buddy Dwight. They walked right in and pulled my buddy out. Luckily my friend was quickly saved By a couple of brothers who were really brave! They could see the world in a different light. But we often get so caught up in how we’re feelin’. I jumped to the side. A couple of friends with whom we grew up. The driver was trembling. As his bumper hit my leg.NAKED IDEALISM Somebody screamed. Stop and make sure it ain’t nonsense you’re talkin’. There were three cop cruisers there that night. eyes open wide. And think. So spend a few moments in silence. Realizin’ what life’s really all about. “Get out of our way!” And I swirled around to see a red TA. . watchin’ the fight. But they all sat in their cars. We don’t stop and think about how we’re dealin’. What they just did made the rest shut up. “What’s so great about violence?” Next time you think you wanna go knuckle knockin’.
Homophobic people could have surrounded a gay or lesbian person. or otherwise? We need to be aware of what bubbles just beneath our surface. we’re raised in a society with many biased messages.130 Confessions of imperfection These “isms” ranging from speciesism to sexism are not easy issues to consider. she’s not. as many may fear that their group will lose something in the process. or sexist and aggressive men could have surrounded a woman. After all. The racial divisions in the voting patterns for the 2008 U. did it make you angry or even slightly uncomfortable? Did it temporarily heighten your awareness of any groups with which you self-identify. especially when we’re in a stressful situation. class. gender. “She’s still White. I prided myself upon being appreciative of diversity. I still need to maintain awareness of my own “history of thinking. and it’s important to remember that nobody is perfect. or an arena of thousands could have cheered as a matador slaughtered a bull. If we actively strive for a better world. ranging from sexism to speciesism. my grandmother’s first question was.S. we must also realize that forces far less obvious than a fight outside a club often trigger divisiveness. It doesn’t matter if we’re 17 or 60 years old. Upon asking about one of them.” Although hurt by her question.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY As you read through the above account. sometimes secretly patting myself on the back for my good behavior. be it race. I’ll share a few examples from my own life. Democratic primary elections may have been an example of this. Dwight did not foresee what he was getting himself into when he chased after the men who had just hit his friend. Efforts to create social change can trigger stress and insecurity. In school I was briefly romantically involved with a few women who were not from the U.S. Adolescents could have watched as a mischievous friend tortured a stray cat. I knew that she had grown up during a time when messages of . The onus may be upon us to maintain calmness when others are incensed. Even after participating in at least five courses dealing with different aspects of stereotyping and prejudice. Grandma.” During most of my late high school through graduate school years. I did not directly communicate my feelings to my grandmother. isn’t she?” “No. The conflicting categories of groups or “isms” involved in such a scenario can easily be interchanged. though.
if they’re not going to be more appreciative of the help of an ‘outsider. commitment. it was still present among my thoughts. I continually sensed that I was perceived as an outsider. Over the following years. while the Rainbow Grannies were extremely appreciative. 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). and when I served on the diversity committee for one of my graduate programs. As I found their cause. I later secretly viewed my interest in women of other races as evidence that I had morally advanced beyond my family in some way. the expressions of gratitude I received from some of the others seemed below the level I had expected. reasonably well attended turnout. Although a desire to prove my moral superiority was never the primary motivational factor. We ended up with a successful. and this is now also the title of a documentary film about their journey and their mission. Additionally. Several years later. 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. throughout the planning process.” They discovered I had been involved with other cycling events and social causes. I finally admitted to myself that my altruistic actions involving minority groups were not yet entirely altruistic. even running a story entitled “Lesbian Grandmothers from Mars. It was a great deal of effort. and energy admirable. more pertinent to this discussion was my internal reaction immediately following the event. However. My first thoughts were less than noble: “Well.) However. I didn’t want to upset her further.NAKED IDEALISM prejudice were even stronger.” (The Grannies are from Mars. Pennsylvania. such as when I worked as a personal aide for a student with a physical disability. I agreed. but the vast majority of individuals who helped with the event were very cooperative and great fun to work with. I quietly gave myself little “pats on the back” several more times.’ then they can fight their own battle!” “Why should I waste my time if people don’t even care . and wanted to know if I’d organize an educational event in Pittsburgh. A few of the organizations from whom I had expected the greatest levels of participation seemed to show relatively little interest. The local media provided very creative coverage. perhaps with a degree of suspicion.
I had been afforded some privileges in life. I was not being fully authentic. I had much to learn. we inevitably realize that we can never fully understand the conditions or experiences of another group. Sure. such as attending some of the world’s wealthiest schools. who explain that “White Liberal Syndrome” is a common part of Caucasian racial identity development. but these both sounded a bit like me. I hated to admit it. 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. In graduate counselor training I encountered the work of Derald Wing Sue and David Sue. While I cared for those I was trying to help. and I may not have hurt them directly in any way. Attempting to do so may send a message of inauthenticity. This isn’t naked idealism. I actually felt somewhat tired of having to honor “gay pride” and display sensitivity to other minority issues. or we may overidentify with a minority group while rejecting our own group. We may adopt a “paternalistic protector” role. While we may not realize it at first. as evidence that I really was the good person I professed myself to be. I still had some issues to work through. there was still a small part of me that secretly saw them as tokens. This led to additional prejudiced thoughts. at the very least. . Below the surface. To say the least. Even if it was without their knowledge. playing the hero who shields minority groups from the evils of the world. without yet being totally honest about our own prejudices.131 This includes acting out of guilt to help underprivileged or minority groups. but with similar ulterior motives attached. often implied in this is an expectation that others owe us something–acceptance. and thus can never fully be one of them. Eventually. 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. 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. It made me wonder how many other people do good in the world with a true desire to help others. and I didn’t believe I had received any special status because of that.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. It was painful to look at myself honestly and see how I had used them to feel better about myself.
they can quickly shift from one target to another. Just keep in mind that you’re certainly not alone. all are oppressed. One can express pride in their own culture without suggesting that it is superior to another.. sexual orientation. we may have difficulty accepting those of others. If we’ve committed significant time and energy to promoting equality.” If we’re not self-observant. The truth is that working for a more egalitarian world is simply our duty. . He believes he must squelch his own identity. from those of a certain economic class to those of a certain religion. a Caucasian male who strives to act fairly toward individuals of other races. we may engage in distorted either/or thinking regarding our own identity.g. We once had a bumper sticker that read. e. because openly expressing it may be seen as politically incorrect.NAKED IDEALISM However.). Over time. Talking with people you already know and trust or participating in professionally facilitated meetings are two possibilities. as we strive for naked idealism. gender. Doug.” It is everyone’s issue. “When one is oppressed. until we are secure with our own identity. This may initiate further dialogue. Although it’s possible you might receive some praise. we can learn to peacefully coincide with a deeper appreciation of differences. you’ll be more authentic.” 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. Be politically correct and accepting of others. In fact. feels ashamed to admit any pride of his own heritage. we may feel as though we need to choose one and only one of the following: • • Be proud of our own identity (race. Once prejudiced attitudes exist. you may also get some strong feedback that initially makes you very uncomfortable. If you still have significant work to do in this area. We cannot expect anything in return. and we will all experience different reactions from others as we attempt to do so. In other words. Doug becomes resentful when others talk of concepts such as “Black Pride” or a “Latino celebration. For example. don’t expect any type of pat on the back for being honest. etc. That’s part of the process. you might consider acknowledging it and getting it out in the open in a safe setting. If individuals who belong to one of your “isms” groups are present. It is not just “their issue. In the end. we may wonder why we still encounter suspicion on occasion.
3. Good luck. 7. ___ I still shop regularly at department stores that I routinely bash in “socially responsible” conversation. even though I feel guilty for supporting 24-hour supercenters. I then slur my speech or cough while saying it so others can’t tell what I said. even though I haven’t seen them in 10 years. ___ When I do #1. This is not to educate them. regardless of whether we have anything in common.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. ___ I pause for more than two seconds when trying to decide what term to use to refer to someone in a minority group. you may not yet be acting with integrity–you may still be more concerned about appearing PC. and remember that we’re all human! 1. and check off the items that pertain to you. . I hide several “nongreen” items that I use regularly.g. 5. Read through the list below.. ___ When I do #3. but to show how cool I am. ___ Someone with multiple minority statuses (e. For the same reason. ___ 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. If you check more than 2 or 3 items. 2. 6. 4. ___ The one person in my family with a physical disability is the one I talk about the most. but at home I eat steak for breakfast and have even devised a way to create “salad” without any plant-derived products. “Afri–aaaacho! Ahem.” 8. The story I always tell involves me helping them. ___ I order vegetarian or vegan dishes when I’m out with vegetarian or vegan friends. I make sure that any labels on the green products face outward for all to see. I make efforts to see that my eco-friendly cleansers and other products are prominently displayed. an African-American vegan Jewish lesbian Libertarian with quadriplegia) gets an automatic invitation to my party.
___ I hide my Christmas tree in the basement and put out a Menorah when Jewish friends come over. 11. I always ask my one friend of a different race to help by answering the door.NAKED IDEALISM 9. ___ 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. ___ At my parties. 13. This helps to ensure that we’re engaging in actions because we really want to. As we convert our “PC shoulds” to a deeper awareness and honesty. ___ While viewing the film Borat with several friends. non-hybrid SUV. 14. and lied about why I really left my coat in the car. we can further increase our integrity across multiple life areas. The very next day I returned to see it a second time alone and laughed my hind end off. ___ I have a “stop global warming” bumper sticker on my large. 12. I want them to be the first one guests see when they arrive. I struggled to remain straight-faced throughout the film. 10. or vice-versa with other religious symbols. not only because we desire approval. . ___ I was very cold when I arrived at my vegetarian friend’s party.
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). The next question is. This Eastern religious philosophy includes accepting the reality around us and loosening our desire to control people and other aspects of our existence. 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. In one example. the possibilities open up. 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. such as attitudes and opinions. without judgment. and do not secretly look down upon them in any way. this may be difficult. 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. We see them as completely equal. However. We end up just tolerating the person as a whole rather than accepting them at all. I’m far from perfect at this myself! Just as judgment can hinder our perception of current reality. Rather than attempting to control the situation.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY 22. If we accept the simple fact that others rarely embody all of our ideals. and patiently work from this point. it can also stand in our way of relating to the world. True and full acceptance of another human being means being okay with every characteristic of them. because no two people agree on everything. Dyer outlined how he had dealt with his grandchildren when they were arguing. we now focus primarily upon changeable aspects of people. Think of someone you know who doesn’t quite live up to your ideals. he simply . We may distance ourselves from them. If we strongly disagree with someone on a topic we’re very passionate about. This included exploring unaddressed prejudices we may still hold toward people with noticeable differences.
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. His unobtrusive. I developed another HTT attitude that I still wrestle with. who doesn’t seem to match your ideals. caring. and expressed confidence that they would work things out on their own. and this is but one example of how it can rear its ugly head. I prided myself for having endured more struggles to earn my way into my new environments. During several years in the non-profit.132 Perhaps as we develop a more caring and accepting presence. and distanced myself from many of my peers as I did this. and many people in the private sector don’t. While I grew up in a low-income environment. It is basically this: “I choose to prioritize a larger purpose and the well-being of the world over profit. Avoiding the “holier than thou” idealist label If we have not resolved our own major insecurities or our need to appear perfect. did I truly begin to learn how interesting and compassionate many of my former classmates are.NAKED IDEALISM let them know that he was nearby.133 . and actively reject them. This is despite the fact that I actually preferred some aspects of the corporate setting. I adopted an HTT attitude as a shortcut to bolstering my own identity. they resolved their differences. we too can inspire change.” Are you familiar with this attitude? It seems to be quite common. and accepting presence helped them to change. Only at class reunions years later. many of my boarding school and college classmates came from families with exceptional financial wealth and social status. Consider the person you brought to mind above. so I’m better than them. when I was more fully present. and academic sectors. We may look down upon them when they don’t meet our standards. For a time. In a relatively short period of time. we may inadvertently set impossibly high standards for others. This can lead to self-isolation and exclusion of people that we may actually have a great deal in common with. governmental.
others may have no desire to hear our facts or opinions. “I’m a kind person and I just behaved in a very hostile manner toward someone else. As we’ll discuss shortly. idealists frequently find ourselves speaking with someone we wish would “just see it my way.e. or could learn the same information we had obtained. which frustrates us–especially if it’s someone we know and love. they probably won’t listen unless we’re able to step down from our own pedestal and listen to them. and even nations..g. Why is this? The Arbinger Institute’s model. In other words. it creates incompatible thoughts or “cognitive dissonance” that makes us uncomfortable.. our own behavior) by creating a conflict with an external source. We can attempt to deny and mask the true cause of the dissonance (i.g. we may pride ourselves for our superior understanding. knowing we are holier than they. something that contradicts our values surrounding social/ecological responsibility or otherwise). Making things particularly difficult for aspiring naked idealists is that even after we’ve overcome our HTT attitudes.. An example would be. others may still perceive us as an “annoying dogooder” who reminds them of their faults. .” 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. We then blame that external source. e.” There are a few ways we may try to escape this discomfort: • • We can change our thinking and behavior to correct our wrongdoings. by apologizing. offers one answer. Inside. even if we aren’t looking down on others. However.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY As people who often wish the world were very different. 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. usually a person or group of people. their newfound enlightenment would benefit both them and the world in amazing ways. If only others could comprehend our point of view. groups. for our thoughts and actions. originally designed to explain the source of conflict between individuals. health. they may imagine that we are.134 When we choose to do something that we know in our hearts to be wrong (e.
. the more we will connect with people who recognize the ways in which the world is interconnected. 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. we close ourselves off from hearing anything more that that individual has to say. the more we grow and attract people with positive intentions. This can make us quite uncomfortable at first! I’ve been in many such situations myself.” After all. This may lead us away from pursuing visions aligned with who we truly are. When we shoot a messenger who reminds us that something we’re doing is harmful and misaligned with our deeper values. it’s easier to label us (the silent messenger) as being an “annoyance.135 The recipient of negative energy is often the person who reminded us that we’re not doing the right thing. we’re far from perfect. 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. it becomes very difficult to establish open and meaningful communication. we actively repel them.NAKED IDEALISM Even though the second option requires much more of our time and effort in the long run. These same people are most likely to point out the ways in which our own actions have both a positive and negative impact. In other words.” Debating why our position is better than someone else’s in such a situation only creates further conflict. We are more likely to react defensively ourselves. justifying their stereotype. and to resolve internal conflict without blaming others. Nobody enjoys thinking about that! Rather than acknowledge their internal discord. Rather than connecting with another human being whose behaviors and actions resonate with something inside of us. it often feels like the easiest route to take. We shoot the messenger! For example. If we label other people. we give up a potentially important opportunity. and may contribute to isolation. So if we want to positively influence the world. The greatest disservice we can do. whatever our social cause. too. After all.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. Instead of attracting others with values that match our authentic self. is act from a place that sounds “holier than thou. it’s important to be comfortable with discomfort.
He wishes to establish a group norm that is safe and egalitarian. 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. whom I had met in person.. which is that we must also be careful of the HTT attitude within idealist groups united by a common cause. This is often not the fault of any one person. are very friendly and highly respectable. 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. if someone makes a racist or sexist comment. 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”). Each is likely to point out any violations of their own priority issues. for whom gender equality issues are a strong driving value. and it’s again easier for us to shoot the messenger as a short-term solution. The primary individuals involved in the e-mail dispute. two or three for whom gender is also a key issue. A very important part of our image and identity has suddenly been questioned. the story goes like this: • • Male A makes an ambiguous “joking” comment to Female A. For example. and so on. Male B. In this particular case. and does not necessarily reflect anyone’s initial intentions. I’ve observed this attitude combined with the need to appear perfect. Several other females express opinions. • • • . Male A responds angrily.g.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY This brings us to the next point. accusing Male B of overreacting and trying to appear politically correct. 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. communicates to the group that the ambiguous comment might be construed as a sexual advance. a group interested in environmental issues may have two or three members for whom race is also a key issue.” Things soon get so out of hand that a group moderator disables e-mail communication altogether. creating conflict in at least two well-intentioned idealist groups. e. we may react very defensively if accused of such a violation–whether we were actually at fault or not.
we all have different hierarchies of values. depending upon where we are in our own self-development process. Otherwise. and why they felt certain behaviors didn’t make them unethical people. In a more recent example. If we allow the complexity of the world’s issues to overwhelm us. Should somebody call us out on a difference. I felt bad that their half hour or more wasn’t spent creating something meaningful in the world. even among groups with whom we share much in common. We view those who do not seem to fit our category as “outgroup” members. gender. First. some were probably unaware of the dynamics and assumptions driving themselves and others. this is a conscientious group of people. and may include race. unable to change the world. and given that idealists have an above-average tendency to see the complexities with which the world operates. so I understood the frustration they were feeling. This may be a way of simplifying our identities. we may seek superficial solutions such as labeling. 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. we need to attract as diverse a base of people as possible. When we’re looking to create larger societal visions and we’re in the minority. As discussed in Part II. Apple Computer versus IBM).NAKED IDEALISM Again. and so on. . unable to attain them. Given that a function of stereotyping is to simplify complexity. I had been in their position not so long ago. driven by admirable values. not label them as outsiders or drive them away.137 Entire nations employ this tactic on occasion. and simply being aware of our own can help to avoid such conflict. I believe this ingroup-outgroup stereotyping may be even greater among idealists. favorite athletic team. 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. However.g. However. type of profession. we may eventually end up alone in our visions. it certainly doesn’t automatically make us a bad person–and keep in mind nobody else is perfect either. class. So how can we transcend some of our HTT attitudes? There are a few possible strategies. Relatedly. age. this has often occurred in competitive market or war-related settings. dietary choices. 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..
they may respond. “Do not be afraid to join a group in which you might be the minority. consider whether it’s because you’re allowing someone else to trigger your insecurities. Look for opportunities to work with them as well. which reminded me that this level of conversation is still outside the societal norm.”138 In a classic psychology experiment. personal and interesting. if you find yourself acting HTT. This includes admitting our faults and our humanness from time to time. but it may also decrease their biases against any groups we represent to them.” Also. Our communication then became even more meaningful. no matter what we do. We began talking about how certain political races might provoke additional friction on race and gender issues. Is it really worth our time and effort to beat ourselves up over them?139 . I did not do this in any kind of emotional outpouring. I just did it very matter-of-factly. If someone who knows me overhears a conversation where “those crazy environmentalists” are mentioned. don’t equate this with isolating yourself from people who think differently. “I know this guy named Dave who’s really passionate about the environment. but he doesn’t fit that description at all. 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. or with an expectation that she provide any specific type of reaction or validation. Recognize that some people are difficult to deal with. Working with another group may not only reduce our stereotypes of them. I was recently speaking with someone I had just met. Just as “playing big” and pursuing our visions gives others permission to do the same. removing our own facades gives others permission to do the same. As Baker suggests. I realized that I was a bit too focused upon trying to convey my brilliance. That would have placed an unfair burden upon her. For example. Next. because diverse perspectives can be valuable. I stepped down off my pedestal and opened up about how I had wrestled with prejudices in my own life. while you want to surround yourself with people who will support you in achieving your visions. who had more than a dozen years of experience organizing political campaigns and educating the public on policy issues.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY openly be your imperfect self. She even thanked me for having the courage to bring up such topics. or because you’re basing your self-worth upon your ability to change and control them.
We may find that some of our current attitudes and behaviors don’t mesh with our purpose. when this has the unintended opposite effect of pushing people away and decreasing our influence. What are their visions. values. For example. values. and litter blows around the neighborhood. via the activities outlined in much of this book. In its broadest sense. and visions. or adopt any type of HTT stance. One reason I felt comfortable consulting him was because he didn’t force his opinions on me in any way. He simply related to me in an authentic. we may have adopted our HTT attitudes as an indirect (and less effective) way of getting what we really want–e. In some cases. we discuss how to apply concepts from Part II and Part III to communicate more authentically. The truth is that in most cases. and interests? Under his fifth habit for highly successful people.NAKED IDEALISM Finally. non-condescending manner.” Here. spend time focusing on what you want and need in your life. they aren’t going to listen to us right off the bat.g. What incentive have we given them to do so? Before we can truly relate to others. suppose that neighbors across the street from us repeatedly forget to put the lid on their trash can. To give a basic example. when I began contemplating a shift toward a plant-based diet and lifestyle. It doesn’t need to involve an elected official or a political party.. I sought information from a doctor I know who had been vegan for a few decades. First. When people look to make a significant adjustment in their lives. which we will encounter if we seek to create a different world on any level. a little bit about politics. we must first listen to them and understand where they’re coming from. This is a stark contrast from our vision for . trying to appear as a know-all expert to attract people or exert influence in the world. “seek first to understand. and it may involve only a few people. Connecting with people in a non-condescending way can bring about great positive change. then to be understood. they often turn to people they know and trust for their experience and opinions. Covey advises. Political dialogue: Rising above the fray I also call this the 5-D Approach: “dialoguing dual-directionally despite differences. politics can involve any conversation in which we collectively manage our diverse self-interests to meet everyone’s needs. This will assist us in advancing our visions as naked idealists.” 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.
We do not hold meaningful. We often don’t know where we ourselves stand on a deeper level. she seemed to mean that merely being optimistic won’t move us forward–we also need a defined path for making progress. e. When speaking about political issues. However.. This is true on a national. replying that “Hope is not a strategy. mutually beneficial dialogues. as mentioned in the Part II values discussion. Hillary Clinton criticized opponent Barack Obama’s rhetoric on hope. Democratic Presidential Primaries. another element is also required–vision! Although vision should be the starting point. we often communicate on a very superficial level. When we walk across the street to address the issue with them. In the 2008 U. what our values are. Thus.S. These include the following: • • • • Values Vision Action steps (strategy or position) Current reality . we now have other options. we engage in debates that sound like two superficial monologues. However.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY a clean environment. 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. with the information synthesized in this book. we’re engaging in political dialogue. and we wish to keep our yard and our neighborhood clean. They need to put their trash out.g. political conversations. Going back to Part III. let alone where the other person stands.” While this was not an original quote. we often ignore it in our own lives. 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. The conversation will likely revolve around how both of our needs can be met. particularly societal challenges that are much more complex (recall the term divergent challenge from part II). organizational or individual level.
V.141 For example.e. more people will die at the hands of terrorists. which are synonymous with their position or stance. doesn’t maintain a “hard stance” showing it’s not willing to back down.S. What values drive each of them? The first believes the U. The challenger. candidates often spar over the state of current reality. should continue to occupy Iraq until further stability has been achieved. one individual may argue that the United States should withdraw from Iraq immediately. The terrorists will declare . and may provoke further conflict through its continued occupation.. noting any positive changes that have occurred during their tenure. They disagree vociferously.NAKED IDEALISM The last two. should get out of Iraq because they value preservation of human life–they argue that the U. The second believes that the U. are the levels at which political debates probably most frequently occur. is killing innocent people through its military presence there. on the other hand. should remain in Iraq because they value exactly the same thing: the preservation of human life. while the other believes that the U. generally points out everything that’s currently wrong. current reality and action steps. The biggest downside might be that lower-key political debates suffer poor T. Alongside this. we wouldn’t have so much to argue about. They hold that if the U. their action steps. If we talked more about values or visions. possibly to the point where they can’t stand to speak with one another. we often carry our divisive sparring over strategy beyond this setting and it becomes a barrier.S.S. 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.S. We could think “win-win” and work together for mutual benefit more frequently. While establishment of differences may be an important part of marketing one’s self during an election. for example. Where they would be more likely to come together and agree is their vision for the country and their values. This leads to division and anger. During elections. they engage in problemsolving debate over how they’re going to resolve an issue–i. The incumbent paints as rosy a picture as possible.S.
they just believe in very different paths or strategies for achieving that vision. Once I came to understand that some of my relatives were genuinely concerned about my physical health and well-being. it even takes on an addictive quality due to the drama it produces–if you don’t believe conflict has entertainment value.142 Also. . pointing out surface-level differences through debating may seem to be the easiest route. but simply ending the debate and planting a seed that they could choose to pursue or ignore.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY victory and continue to build a stronger presence. but around the globe. they may lose their ability to open-mindedly consider other possibilities. I was acting outside the norm. “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. I was also reinforcing our common values to minimize stereotyping and potential conflict. and may be considering only current reality. as evidenced by questions like. movie. Another example of a common idealist topic that is more effectively considered on a values level is vegetarianism and veganism. Probably not many! Athletics. as well as the center of many social rituals that bond friends and families. Or. reality television. political debates. as an idealist. and stated that I’d be happy to recommend resources if they were ever interested. is that many of my friends and relatives share with me the value of good health–we’ve simply had access to different information. For many. I wasn’t attempting to convert them. Caught up in their individual stances. however. and local crime news are only small pieces of the pie. What made the reactions even more understandable. In the shorter term. given that eating habits are an important part of identity. play or book plots you’ve seen that don’t include some type of conflict or competition as a core component. not only in Iraq. many of my family members and friends reacted with defensiveness or discomfort. This is particularly problematic if the two individuals disagreeing are in high-level leadership positions. Both individuals may envision a safe and peaceful world over the longer term. This is understandable. consider how many television. When I first announced that I was adopting a strict vegetarian diet. explained that I had come across different information. I expressed my appreciation for their shared concern. they may not have even clarified what their longerterm vision is yet. disrupting the status quo.
” This leads into our next topic. such labels may force us into adopting entire sets of positions on a range of issues. . you may wish to talk more productively with others about environmentally responsible behavior. civil rights. seeking commonalities becomes more important than identifying with labels and sparring over differences.NAKED IDEALISM One of the most commonly emphasized surface-level differences is political party labels. We may hesitate to admit that the party we publicly support may be “wrong” on certain issues. 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. To do this. we may feel compelled to agree with (or simply ignore) other stances taken by them. but it’s akin to striving for a vision while completely ignoring current reality–it won’t work. and so on. we might support a particular candidate primarily for their stance on samesex marriage. That not only invalidates another person and closes our own mind to wisdom they may have to offer us. 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. because we fear it may make us look uninformed or inadequate. we may wish to take our communication a step further. As we learn to work toward our visions rather than remaining stuck in disagreement. As MacNair points out. the importance of voting. We may want to share our viewpoints in a way that accepts and respects others while also inspiring positive change. Even if we don’t initially agree with certain strategies or action steps promoted by the group with which we identify. For example. and blindly accept their economic position even though it will likely harm us. 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.
we can try to assess where another person is in a larger change process.143 A useful framework for this is the Stages of Change Model developed by Prochaska and DiClemente. exercising and eating dark leafy greens). In other words. These tools are merely intended to help you interact in a mutually beneficial way with people whose opinions differ from yours. and plant a seed of change by inspiring them to hear their own thoughts and contradictions more clearly. they may display resistance. or they may have tried in the past to change but became frustrated about their ability to do so. Prochaska and DiClemente observed that humans go through several stages in the process of changing our thinking and behavior. suggesting that someone quit smoking when they don’t yet understand and believe the dangers is probably a waste of energy. but is also very aware of the cons. For example. smoking or nail biting) or when they give up a desired habit (e. However. and perhaps even defensive behavior. 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.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY In some cases.. Without proper training. you could do damage in such a situation. They may simply be uninformed or underinformed about the impacts of their behavior.144 Note that you can also apply much of this knowledge to changing yourself. . all previous change progress is not automatically undone. it can be more helpful to think of such occurrences as a partial and temporary setback. This ambivalence can last for months or even years. or cycle back. Contemplation: The individual is aware of a need to change and thinks about the pros of changing. Some people view goal attainment as an “all or nothing” endeavor. It is also normal to backslide.g.. to an earlier stage. coupled with elements of Motivational Interviewing. as though they’ve completely gone back to square one when they return to an old unwanted habit (e.g. I do not suggest that you utilize these techniques with anyone in need of mental health treatment. If we treat them as though they’re beyond where they really are.145 It is important to tailor our language to where someone currently is in this process.
” Having memorized Naked Idealism word-for-word. and let her know we’re happy to recommend informational resources if she ever wishes to know more. They are focused upon preventing a return to previous behavior and consolidating any gains they’ve experienced. but I still feel like there are many things that just don’t make sense about it. As we can see. note that people support it for many reasons. These assume a one-on-one conversation with some privacy. 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. A friend just expressed to us that she thinks all the attention to food labels is fanatical. we confidently think. changing thinking and behavior is usually not a simple one-step process. Suppose that we’re interested in seeing more people eat organically grown food. Our friend is most likely in the precontemplation stage. Probably the best we can do at this point is simply express our understanding that organic farming may seem like an unfamiliar concept. but is ready to change and has already begun to make modifications in their habits. and she just sees no sense in it. has a plan of action. 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.NAKED IDEALISM Preparation: The individual intends to change. as attempting such conversations in group settings can produce unpredictable dynamics. and has often attempted some action in the past with limited or unsuccessful results. possibly within the next month or two. Consider one or two major changes you’ve made in your life. “My friend is in the contemplation stage!” They’re aware of a . She may or may not ever choose to take us up on that. Maintenance: The individual has achieved their desired results. We usually undergo significant psychological and attitudinal change before engaging in a visible behavioral shift. Now suppose instead that the same friend says to us.
B.” Key ideas. and C are losses or costs. nodding our head in acceptance. is key. and on the other hand. Instead. but are still ambivalent.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY need to change. MI is a “style for eliciting behavior change by helping [others] to explore and resolve ambivalence. not just the parts we agree with. They may realize how they’re “fighting themselves” when they hear their own thoughts out loud. especially any ambivalence. we might ask if they’d like us . you feel that X. Y. so that we understand where they are. “So on one hand. this may actually decrease the probability of change. and Z are benefits of changing your behavior. • • With this new communication tool. It’s important to honor the other individual’s freedom to make their own choices. An important component of active listening is reflective listening. Motivational Interviewing. much of effectively relating to others–especially where there is anxiety or conflict–is about transcending our own egos. or MI. let’s return to the example of our friend who is ambivalent about organic food. Actively listening to what the other person is saying.” This helps to ensure that we’re both on the same page. For example. People will be most open to conversation when we express acceptance and affirmation for where they currently are. and it gives them an opportunity to correct us if we’ve excluded anything. This involves stating our understanding of what they’ve said to us. per Rollnic and Miller. Sometimes simply enabling the other person to hear the different parts of their own ambivalence through reflective listening can motivate change. and then reflecting a summary of their thoughts back to them. include the following:147 • • • • Direct persuasion is not an effective method for resolving ambivalence. you feel that A. This calls for an additional tool. It’s not all about us! After we have a better sense of what their pros and cons are. This means all of what they’ve said. It’s important to resist the urge to debate! As with creating the results we envision. We might ask them what they see as the pros and cons.
A friend recently told me of his efforts nearly a decade earlier to alter policies within his son’s school. they have to be motivated enough to take action. . We mustn’t allow ourselves to be offended if they say “no. Often the best we can do is to serve as a catalyst in a much larger process. as he had encountered great resistance. Whatever the case. he nodded in agreement. a year.148 We’re not responsible for others’ change. it could have taken another 10 years! Hesitantly.NAKED IDEALISM to recommend a few resources in some of those specific areas. He modestly denied responsibility for recent adoption of the long-overdue measures. or even a decade from now. as a new group of people had actually taken the steps needed to implement them. we want to leave most of the homework for the other person to do on their own. had been fruitless. 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. The same holds true for change endeavors on a larger scale.” Generally. he explained. Accepting this limited responsibility without giving up altogether will help us to maintain happiness and balance. 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. His own struggles.
it takes a bit of effort to do the following: • Choose to create things that are truly in line with our authentic self. even when they don’t live up to our ideals. the law itself has attracted many.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY 23. thoughts become things. As you’ve already read. 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. however. ensuring that our desire is strong. To be frank. . Clearly. This includes having a strong desire for something. This could include people we’ve sought out and chosen to know. If we desire results larger than what we can create on our own. distracting people from more complete and sensible approaches. The Law of Attraction itself. or people whom fate or coincidence happens to have sent our way.149 At the time I’m writing this. a belief we can attain it. It basically states that we attract into our lives whatever we spend the most time thinking about–essentially. and authentically with others. I think that it’s often oversimplified as a marketing gimmick. Attracting Resources to Achieve Results We now have some techniques for conversing more effectively. Googling “Law of Attraction” yields more than two million results. It also holds that we will also attract necessary resources if we follow some of the guidelines outlined under the section on creating visions. and a full willingness to have it along with everything that comes with it. is really only part of the process. respectfully.
I cannot rule out the possibility that things sometimes come into our lives through potentially supernatural or divine means.” Keep in mind that you don’t need to come up with a perfect version before sharing it with others. “Guiding well-intentioned people to create the lives and world they envision. Without concise messages regarding what’s most important to us. motivation. e. and have even derived a few slogans or taglines from it.150 We’re probably on the right ..g. e. making them known to others. There may be parts of our reality that we cannot yet understand or observe directly. and behavior necessary to achieve our desired results. ensuring that there aren’t any elements we aren’t willing to have. then it is our duty to craft a 30-second or less message describing its importance. 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. He recommends having a single message with a few different ways to say it.g. and attempting to debate such points would lead nowhere. “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. What I can say is that things certainly do not always manifest themselves in this fashion. As coaches often say to clients who are starting their own businesses. 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. and we can take conscious and active steps to increase the likelihood of attracting and creating what we desire. and that it may change over time. Break our large visions down into manageable visions and action steps. It had to be catchy and succinct enough to deliver to someone I had just met during a short elevator ride. as in the “Bottles from Heaven” story I shared earlier. and structuring it so that we repeat our key point three times within 30 seconds. we may miss opportunities to attract others. ensuring that we have the framework.NAKED IDEALISM • • Establish a clearly defined vision.
Leah. share one or more types of resources. and Matt work for a 30-person organization run by Sherry. . For example. an advice network. we might tell a story of a student who inspired a campus wide movement saving 20 tons of paper in a year. if we’re talking to a college campus about the benefits of recycling. We can also employ the “seek to understand before being understood” rule whenever possible. Keener also suggests that if we have slightly more time with our audience. Because each of us has a unique set of strengths and values. people regularly speak with each other on a range of topics–and some individuals may be the primary conduits of information between subgroups. we each play different roles in networks. and they seek out problem-solving and technical skills from the hubs of the advice network. Social networks are collections of individuals who are connected in some way: they actively relate to one another. 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. This applies to work and non-work settings.151 Suppose that Mike. and if it makes sense to several friends and relatives after we practice it on them. As noted by David Krackhardt and Jeffrey Hanson. and a communication network. Within a communication network. or exchange information. Mike has the best ability to earn others’ trust. a given group of people can be interconnected through at least three different types of networks: a trust network. Of everyone in the workplace. we utilize illustrative stories with characters that the audience can relate to. getting a sense of the audience’s background beforehand so that we can tailor our story or other message to connect with their interests.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY track if our statement really resonates with us. and achieving desirable results. This makes it easier for our audience to imagine themselves as the character engaging in the desired behavior. Group members share the most sensitive political information with those at the center of the trust network.
However. he’s not very good at giving valuable “how to” input on getting the job done. Think about organizations or groups to which you belong. Leah and Matt. they speak with a large number of people. ideas. and often passes information along to others. 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. However. While they may not be incredibly social or persuasive. They may command high levels of respect. the hub of the advice network. for that. his trusted responses may change their mind if he’s bought into Sherry’s vision. their wealth of information can lend great credibility to an idea or product. seems to be present at every important conversation. channeling information. she’s not really at the center of any of these networks. Connectors: Similar to communication network hubs. Rather than talking about types of networks. gaining a sense of their needs and tailoring her presentation accordingly. when people come to Mike to voice their concerns about Sherry’s approaches. • . 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. most people go to Leah. Matt. her visions stand a good chance of gaining buy-in and support if she takes the time to build rapport with Mike. and opinions between groups that may not otherwise have direct contact. he discusses three specific types of people that must usually be involved for an idea to catch on. Relatedly. Any personal biases filtering the volumes of information Matt passes along will also favor Sherry’s vision. Malcolm Gladwell outlines a theory of how previously little-known ideas or products can suddenly reach a “tipping point” and spread like an epidemic. Although Sherry is formally in charge of the organization.NAKED IDEALISM so many share their important secrets and opinions with him. on the other hand. Then. Leah will tailor her sharing of technical advice to support the vision.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. He’s a hub of the communication network.
sociability. As with social network hubs. also consider whether you fit one or more of the above types.” Being a person who values authentic relationships. easy to manufacture device that cuts the carbon emissions of any car in half. Recall the discussion on asking. and involve them. However. Finally. to get them generating buzz about it.” When we can relate authentically to a diverse range of people. and charisma. ask for their input. I admit that I often struggle with this myself. connect. We might also recruit some salespeople to help us pitch our product to key industry players. as they can provide well-informed and trusted opinions on the product that will stand out to potential manufacturers. Before we can spell n-a-k-e-d i-d-e-a-l-i-s-m three times. We’re more likely to obtain constructive feedback and . Also. At this point you may be thinking. our visions and ideas will spread much further. several companies wish to have discussions with us about our innovative creation! Our social networks are also impacted by our “isms” and “PC shoulds. “That seems very artificial. as long as our visions serve the greater good. we may wish to send samples to a few connectors in the manufacturing industry. then there’s little reason to feel selfish. 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. keep in mind that people who fit the above profiles most likely enjoy opportunities to share. suppose that we just invented a highly affordable. keep a few things in mind. Thus. Share your ideas with them. so they’re people we’ll genuinely want to get to know anyway. This way you can utilize your own characteristics to move things along. and not only ourselves. then a high percentage of the people in our networks will probably have values and interests similar to ours. Alongside this. and recognize where you may wish to enlist the help of others. and influence. as though I’m simply labeling and using people. they’ll probably be flattered that you’re including them! As an example of using social networks. in either overt or subtle ways.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY • Salespeople: These individuals can have great influence over others with their negotiation skills. as you seek to gain support for your visions. keep in mind which of your own contacts seem to fit these descriptions. or ask your friends if you seem to fit any of them. if we’re pursuing visions in line with our authentic self. First.
denoted by factors such as larger gay and lesbian populations. number of new patents generated) and economic well-being. 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.153 .g. encouraging us to be more innovative.NAKED IDEALISM additional ideas from others with different perspectives.
PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY 24. However. fear would elevate our adrenaline and enable us to move much faster. Ironically. if we were being chased by a bear. Rettig outlines a range of fears likely to plague activists. Often.”156 The following synonyms and definitions from freedictionary.” . especially of what one is powerless to avoid: “His dread of strangers kept him from socializing. if we had some fears about speaking to a crowd of 100 people tomorrow morning. then we probably won’t have success. For example. Overcoming Fear of Success Fear is not always a bad thing. powerlessness. In Taming Your Gremlin.155 Defining fear Fear is “a feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger. if we’re in the process of pursuing what we want. fears do not help us. 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 can motivate us when we must prepare for upcoming challenges. It can serve a protective function. In more modest amounts. one of the most common obstacles we place in our own way is fear of success itself. we might take that as a sign that we should rehearse our presentation one more time this evening. or inability to act–in other words.” Dismay robs one of courage or the power to act effectively: “The rumor of war caused universal dismay.154 If we’re not ready to have and relate to things in a manner that defines success for us. fear often keeps us from taking action to achieve our visions: • • Dread is strong fear.com involve some type of paralysis. For example. Relatedly. Rick Carson notes that our inner critics or “gremlins” can raise a variety of objections as to why we just can’t do it. however.
along with logical alternatives to each: False success assumption #1: “Success will lead to others around me disliking me.NAKED IDEALISM • Consternation is often paralyzing. and our success may lead others to consider the possibility that they are responsible for at least some of their own situation as well.” It’s our responsibility to make sure we don’t push others away by developing a holier than thou attitude. of selling out and acting like a member of the more powerful group–the same group that may be responsible for injustice against ours. the world. but take on a different dynamic. While the latter may be true. They will think I’m trying to be better than they are. our existing relationships may change–not necessarily end. This leads us right back into reactive problem solving mode and away from our desired results. So where do they come from? Alongside the distorted thinking patterns outlined in Part II.” Assumptions that drive fear of success After reading the definitions and synonyms for fear above. as we define and pursue our visions. Family and friends may accuse us of trying to be something we’re not. Also. Those around us may need time to readjust to the “real us. or the manner in which we relate to others and the world.” As we pursue our visions. 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. Then. we’re still responsible for our own choices and actions. we may hold false assumptions about ourselves. Upwardly mobile individuals from limited-income or minority backgrounds are very likely to face this dilemma. they may still fear losing us . characterized by confusion and helplessness: “Consternation gripped the city as the invaders approached. I list below several common false assumptions surrounding success. As we become more authentic and express different parts of ourselves. these assumptions may trigger fear. our social networks may change dramatically.
then we deserve every ounce of success. I’ve adjusted to settings where I knew only one person or nobody at all. Alternately. and it sometimes felt like a challenge. and I’ll have to manage the challenges of success on my own. I always made new friends.” This fear goes hand in hand with the previous one.000 postcards in the mail. but perhaps this fear just suggests that we haven’t met like-minded people yet. each with an expression of pity? Would that provide more fulfillment than pursuing what’s important to us? . What if we received 100. 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 have the right to celebrate it. After I returned to my Midwestern hometown following my first year at boarding school. but it will attract people with whom we may have even more in common.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY altogether because of our association with a new group. because I’ll be different from the people who have offered me support until now. Given that we now have even more life experience. and we worked things out in the long run. what’s to stop us from getting to know many more people? Several times in my life. False success assumption #2: “Success will lead to loneliness. we can pity ourselves. if we don’t pursue our visions at all. False success assumption #3: “I don’t deserve success and haven’t done anything special to be worthy of it. and we might even get some sympathy from others. we developed relationships with each of the people with whom we’re now acquainted.” If we’ve put in the effort. Exposing our authentic self and pursuing what’s important to us will not only alter our current relationships. we won’t be alone at all. At some point in our lives. Even though I don’t consider myself an extremely outgoing person. If we’re open to them. I had to resolve friction with a good friend who perceived that I had become somewhat snobbish in my new environment.
” While not always the case. As one of my mentors liked to reiterate of his favorite sport. And that suffering is not a necessary part of life. 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. not looking to the future.”158 . Likewise. it is important to separate our self-identity from how well we perform in pursuing those results. 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. Strengths or ability levels are somewhat fluid and are based not only upon talent. this assumption might actually be true.NAKED IDEALISM False success assumption #4: “I’m not capable of handling the responsibilities of success–and if I try hard and fail. If we’re continuing to fail repeatedly in an area. we are almost certain to experience failure. then I’m really a failure!” Earlier we discussed the importance of separating our egos from our desired results. which means we’re depriving ourselves of learning and growth opportunities. If we truly pursue success. However. it stems from dwelling upon the past. 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. the same basketball players who have made the greatest number of baskets probably also hold the records for the greatest number of missed shots. Change comes from choice and we have always had that power. If we never have any failures. we’re probably not stretching ourselves much.157 False success assumption #5: “I might discover that my delayed success is mostly my fault. accepting and utilizing the strengths that we do have. but also upon effort and practice. we might need to reevaluate whether we’re fully recognizing.
or to manipulate others with self-pity? We must accept that there were understandable reasons for holding these assumptions. have they allowed us to avoid something. and neither have any of our immediate family members. we can utilize a four-step model:159 • • We must recognize any faulty assumptions we’ve held. she bluntly reminds us how badly we’ve said we want this opportunity. including false assumptions about success. but only part of the process. but we’re having second thoughts about going. and our mom openly attempts to make us feel guilty about leaving the family. all works out in the long run. We recognize that these assumptions have allowed us to “play it safe. A few days later we develop the courage to let our family know that we’ve decided to pursue our dream job. For example. our courage later inspires a sibling to leave home to pursue a dream job! . It will be a big change for everyone. and the frustration we and our parents feel is simply due to the fact that we care about one another. given that neither we nor our family have ever left our hometown. Our parents and siblings strongly express that they would be very sad to see us go. We must recognize why we’ve held onto these assumptions. In fact. While it’s initially stressful. When we bring our situation to our best friend. We must forgive ourselves so that we can move on. our friend points out that it’s completely understandable.” remaining in an environment where we have already earned our acceptance. • • For example. and we fear being alone. is an important step. suppose we’ve received an opportunity to travel several states away to pursue our dream job as a ranger in a national park. even if these reasons are no longer valid.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY Alleviating our fears Recognizing our fears. to hold onto something we’re afraid we’ll lose. We realize that we’re being plagued by faulty assumptions #1 and #2: we fear our family’s rejection. While it’s initially difficult to admit this to ourselves or our friend. To transcend them and move on. which may include some of those above. We have never traveled beyond our hometown.
return to the phase of asking yourself exactly why you want it. and make sure you’re including all major aspects of what success will entail. and then do one of the following: destroy them in our mind. or at least some parts of it. We can then continue to visualize the future we wish to live. or write them down on a sheet of paper and destroy it. Caine offers a very simple alternate suggestion for alleviating fears. Reconsider the possibility that you might not genuinely want it. If you ever feel that you’ve dealt with all your fears but still remain hesitant to pursue a result you envision.NAKED IDEALISM For those who find mental imagery highly effective. He advises that we visualize our fears coming true in the future. .
The latter may be particularly difficult to digest initially. and leave a lasting legacy.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY 25. We may thus have more time to pursue our visions in the world. appeared highly anxious and “smoked like chimneys. To begin. Upon returning from a trip to assess public health needs of tsunami victims. much of what follows may sound like “shoulds. Doing so increases our odds of living a long and productive life.” If they are among your top values. This is particularly the case in the environmental arena. Much has to do with how we choose to relate–or neglect to relate–to our surroundings. Many of them. share our gifts and energy with others. it’s important that we manage our own health and wellness. we can consider where we are in different health-related areas of our life. & Global Sustainability In this section I suggest action steps that are strongly based upon my own values. Enhancing Health. and take actions in each. Wellness. As cited by Michael Arloski. a colleague told me of the signs of stress exhibited by many of the international aid workers. with an assumption that many but not all readers will have similar priorities. If health. and sustainability are not among your own top values. I have seen and heard numerous examples of people who don’t give themselves the care they deserve. In settings where the focus is upon assisting others. As in other areas of our life. martyring ourselves via poor health habits helps no one. Uncontrollable factors like genetics and injuries aside. wellness. he observed. For most of us wishing to help others and improve the world. I recommend that you take away whatever parts are most valuable to you or return to it later. 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. some of what follows may suggest that your actions don’t yet align with your authentic self and visions.” Likewise. Don Ardell . there are many ways we can improve personal health and wellness while working toward a sustainable world.
we can think beyond traditional exercise like going to the gym if we find it particularly difficult to motivate ourselves. Arloski suggests viewing exercise as “movement. I provide facts about current reality that support some of them. 161 This helps with stress management alongside providing benefits to others. Additionally. can we use the stairs? Rather than getting in the car. I outline below a few strategies or action steps that blend these dimensions and connect personal and collective wellness. arthritis. cardiovascular disease. Small changes can easily add up to 30 minutes of movement per day. work absences. or even lending a listening ear. For example. we can consider our modes of transportation throughout the day. asthma. save energy. Even if we commute a reasonable distance. can we walk or ride a bicycle? Research has linked car commuting to back pain. as noted earlier. Related to stress management and physical fitness. rather than taking an elevator. social. and decreased overall life satisfaction. we can still decrease stress and lessen environmental impact if public transportation is regularly available. it can include expressing gratitude for someone’s friendship. lowered mood and frustration tolerance. increased blood pressure. and minimize pollution. Less fuel and fewer doctor visits also equal money in our pockets. this doesn’t need to be money. First. and personal environments You may already be thinking about ways you could improve in these areas. Transportation options that provide a workout also improve our health.162 This doesn’t sound like fun to me! Pedestrian rage is essentially nonexistent compared to road rage. Again. we may experience health-related benefits simply by giving to others in our own unique way. sharing an artistic talent.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. or ways in which you already have. .” To do this in a way that benefits both ourselves and the world.
A growing . We can learn where and how our food is grown and try to support local. Do the things we put into our body everyday support the self and world we envision? If they don’t. this has extensive environmental. perhaps one of the most intimate ways we relate to the world around us. and no amenities within walking distance. too! We may also explore the personal and global benefits associated with reduction or elimination of animal product consumption. but true. 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. by decreasing power plant pollution. as pesticides may have unintended and unpredictable impacts upon our health and the environment. Then we’ll know what’s going into our food and we’ll get some exercise. We can also consider the energy efficiency of our home. what would our ideal setting look like. In such cases. are we really living in integrity? Food production and distribution consume energy and other resources that affect the world in myriad ways. we can plant a garden. We can take steps such as insulating and utilizing low-energy lighting and appliances.org. A friend who runs an urban farm relates a story about neighborhood adolescents who ask with great wonder. which expends energy and adds to greenhouse gases. visions and priorities? If not. Along with personal nutrition implications.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY Some of us live in areas that have few or no sidewalks. Are we heating a house that’s much larger than we need? These considerations can also benefit others’ health indirectly. we can consider our diet. economic and public health implications. If we have some spare time and space. but our living environment is a very large piece of how we relate to the world. According to 100milediet. no safe places to ride a bicycle. our food ingredients travel an average of 1. We can buy organic foods when possible. Next. Does our location support our values. we might begin to look at how our choice of living location impacts health and well being on both a personal and community level. Fewer costs require less time working to pay the bills. and what steps would it take to attain that? This may be a difficult thing to consider initially. which contributes to life balance and well-being.500 miles. sustainable agriculture. “Miss Mindy. I admit that I haven’t the slightest idea where many of the items in our kitchen cupboards came from. The following elements of our current reality are uncomfortable to consider.
hormones) can be filtered out by drinking water treatment. By some estimates.163 It takes much more energy.g.NAKED IDEALISM body of public health and nutrition literature documents the physiological risks of consuming flesh and dairy products. Five tons of manure are produced each year per every person in the U.g. what proactive steps can we take to move toward our envisioned future? Should you wish to implement significant lifestyle changes. you might consult some of the sources I cite or speak with a qualified expert.165 Waste runoff pollutes water sources. it increases breeding areas for diseasetransmitting insects like mosquitoes and destroys pollution-absorbing vegetation.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. However. some have outlined the negative impacts of current consumption upon racial minority groups. Given our current reality. as does improving sustainability. and dispels the widespread myth that plantbased diets cannot provide sufficient protein. it doesn’t always have to be an “either/or” dilemma between self and community.168 Maintaining personal health and wellness takes some time and commitment. it creates more opportunity for diseases (e. food. and not all chemicals (e.. . Depending upon our own values and priorities. avian flu) to mutate and jump species. When large numbers of farmed animals and humans are unnaturally close together.S.166 When forests are continually cleared to support animal production. Concentrated animal farming currently takes a further toll on health and the environment. five pounds of grain and 2.167 Much of this also has social justice implications.500 gallons of water yield just one pound of beef. there are many ways to integrate our efforts on both fronts.. water and land to produce animal flesh than to produce plant-based food with equivalent energy and nutrition.
Finally. Rethinking Burnout & Compassion Fatigue Idealists who work or volunteer on important causes often face high rates of burnout and compassion fatigue. it keeps us out of the negative thinking of a problem-solving approach. Given my own experience in several idealist settings.e. Additionally. because focusing upon our visions opens up our mind to more possibilities for strategies and action steps.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY 26. even during difficult times. I could relate. Maintaining a vision-based approach as outlined in this book can help to alleviate such symptoms for several reasons..169 In my self-development course for community leadership students. as our visions help to attract other people with similar interests. Several shared stories of how they currently or previously felt on the verge of burnout. what we don’t want. 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. i. First. and instead focused on what we do want. we’re less likely to experience learned helplessness by attempting the same things over and over again in vain. we’ll gain social support to assist us through difficult times and to encourage us to try new strategies. Additionally. Furthermore. . or knew people suffering from burnout. 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.
170 James’ words of advice highlight the value of self-reflection and authenticity outlined in Part II. as National Development Director at BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life). founded Commongood Careers. Previously. we usually can’t do it on our own.000 children nationally over three years. we have much to learn from one another’s experiences and differing viewpoints. adding an emphasis upon viewing ourselves as dynamic and continually growing. joy and fulfillment. Prioritize . or both. I contacted several inspiring people who fit the category of an accomplished idealist. He also echoes a key theme of the book: prioritizing that which is truly most important to us. a company devoted to matching talent and employers in the social sector. Thoughts from Several Remarkable People As we’ve discussed. a former graduate school classmate. In the common struggles of life.500 to 6. he helped the organization grow from having a $4 million budget to a $15 million budget and expanded service levels from 1. and relate them to the framework of this book: “Given your unique life experience and observations thus far. Continually work to evaluate the things that bring you genuine pride.NAKED IDEALISM 27. when we’re out to change the world. fulfilled life while also creating a better world?” James Weinberg. someone who works with high-potential idealists. what one or two pieces of advice would you give to someone who wishes to live a more authentic. In line with this. You must embrace the fact that everything about you will change over time. Below I share three of their responses to the following question. “You must be true to yourself and honest with yourself.
. e. physical.” David Andersen. while also placing close relationships before material possessions–rather than attempting the sequence backwards as many of us do. .” As I jokingly responded to David. When things are OK at Level 1. devoted to concerns about material well-being. is reserved for matters pertaining to personal. where reside matters pertaining to core family. which in turn further enhances our ability to function and grow at the outer levels.g. and all those things . prestige. For me. 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. It never works that way. the most important level. our experiences with other people in Levels 2 and 3 might inspire additional Level 1 spiritual growth. He has served countless students in his years on the faculty of the University at Albany’s Public Affairs and Policy graduate program. and spiritual health.You have to attend to all these levels in the proper order. Level 3 pertains to extended family and friends. Always devote personal energy and attention to all five levels in their necessary order of priority. His response reinforces the wisdom of grounding oneself and being before having.. has provided me with valuable advice on several occasions. wealth. move to Level 2. Level 4 is where I worry about my professional goals. each is a pre-requisite to the next one.. “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. Way out there is Level 5. and pursue them as if your life depended on it–because it does. attaining the rank of Distinguished Professor and having served as dean. Some people try to enter the onion at Level 5 or Level 4 and think that they can skip the pre-requisite levels. His children also contribute to the world in their own unique and meaningful ways. Level 1. a family friend.PART IV: HAVING (RELATING) NAKEDLY these things above all the other distractions and demands in your life.
2) Spend hours and hours over many months getting very clear about what you want (for yourself. he underscores the value of trusting our own wisdom. His response further emphasizes the importance of clarifying our visions on both the personal and community/world levels. In addition to the bestselling college textbook in the United States. and 500 years.NAKED IDEALISM I first communicated with Dave Ellis via a conference call for coaches interested in working with nonprofits and social activists. and all the other people in the world) for every area of life for the next 5. 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. With profits from his books. 10. as you consider the advice in this book.” Thus. 20. . Additionally. be sure to weigh it alongside your own! Dave’s emphasis on thinking into the distant future also encourages global sustainability. ensuring that countless others will have the same opportunities that we do in the present. Dave has authored several books on life coaching–I’ve cited a few of them in this text. he generously established a foundation to provide coaching to leaders of social sector organizations. 100. the people you love.
a counselor or therapist. I encourage you to envision a future that pulls you forward with great excitement and energy.com. values or strengths. don’t be too harsh on yourself! Remember. current reality and action steps. and outline some of the differences at idealistcoach.NEXT STEPS his is where I exit the trail and allow you to continue on your journey. and start outlining your vision. Unless you’re a “go it alone” type of person. this could be a life coach. practice. and where your authentic self is fully exposed! T . manage obstacles. where interconnectedness with the world provides deep fulfillment. revisit some of the exercises outlined in Part II. Are you naked yet? If so. I’ve benefited from each of these types of relationships in my life. helping you to clarify purpose. or a mentor. as you observe yourself relating to others. Depending upon where you currently are. the most important next step is to practice. and maintain focus. To develop skills at using the creative tension framework and telescoping. You might ask a friend to read this book. Also visit some of the books I’ve cited for greater detail. To make your time and effort worthwhile. and the two of you can provide each other with feedback regarding how well you seem to use the concepts in social settings. Many of the Part IV concepts on having will also take hold through practice. values and strengths. Above all. My hope is that you create a life where work and leisure provide great joy. If you’re still unclear on purpose. I hope you remembered to bring your sunscreen and some natural bug repellent! At the very least. develop visions. 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. practice what you’ve read here. I hope that you’re traveling a little more lightly and confidently than you were at the beginning of the trail. you may wish to enlist the services of someone who can be your partner and guide along the path. I encourage you to develop great clarity on how you can make a positive difference without sacrificing your own happiness. pick a concrete project you’d like to complete by next week. It’s up to you to determine how to use the information we’ve covered together.
. or if you have constructive ideas that could improve a future edition. please let us know at pubinfo (at) divergentdrummer (dot) com.Express Yourself If you have found something in this book particularly enlightening.
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.
whose patience. Jo Stepaniak patiently answered questions related to book authoring. Michael Kumer.Acknowledgments My deepest love and gratitude goes to my life partner Jen Joy Wheitner. Jim Vuocolo. Tom Matura. and Pace Smith provided useful feedback. and to Karen Fishell for proofreading assistance.” The Unitarian sermons of Reverend David Herndon and Jeff Liebmann confirmed the value of this project. Pat Clark. Nir Goldman. and to the Higher Power joining all of us. along with Robbie Ali. and James Weinberg generously provided profound thoughts. My classmates have provided inspiration. Leah Jackman-Wheitner. Sue Dockter. the Pittsburgh Vegan Meetup. Carrie and Elisia Ross-Stone. as did the courage of Randy Pausch. Brian Leonard. 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. David Andersen. Citizens of Stiles. Eric Johnson. Eric Bruns. Matt Scheurer. and DDI team members. Thanks to my family and to Jen’s family for their encouragement. I’m indebted to both of them and to the various other authors whose concepts appear throughout this text. . Many friends and acquaintances have inspired me through their courage. and Jason Tate. Past mentors and colleagues with profound influences include my instructors from Mansfield. Lynn Meinke. Phillips Andover. input. and support made it possible for me to write this book. Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz School of Public Policy and Management. Yale. to my sister Sherry for inspiring me by being herself. Dave Ellis. as have my coaching and counseling clients. Michelle and Randy Stone. Rebecca Cheung. convinced me to “write my book sooner rather than later. Gary Crouth. Help4Nonprofits provided a powerful example of a vision-based process in action. Thanks to Bruce Elkin for his feedback and introduction to Robert Fritz’s model through his writing and coaching. however you may perceive it. My cousin. Boys of Fuess. Bryan Hatheway. Many thanks to Melody Platz for insightful editorial comments on several levels. Ron Gaydos. energy and ideas: Rich and Zu Bjork. and Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Community Counseling Department. Russ Kiser. Annie Preis.
org/wiki/Hedonic_treadmill. 4 Gawain (1985). 13 Seligman (n. was the earliest I located. 16 Williamson (1992). originally published in 1978. the Wikipedia entry http://en.org and have my life coaching and consulting profile posted there.S. 23 Keirsey (2006). 9 Arkin (n. including Development Dimensions International.wikipedia. I believe the U. for example. 7 Robinson (2003). See.d. Arloski (2007). See. 22 Keirsey (2006). 17 Kasser (2002). the basic needs outlined by this theory are survival. that may be applied to life coaching. 8 For example. L. for example. Winter (2005).com (2008). 19 While I am very fond of the site idealist. and Williams & Davis (2002). love/belonging. 24 Keirsey (2006). It also aligns with a key assumption of a popular counseling model. Per Corey (2005).R. evaluate vision. 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. 2 1 .). Tieger & Barron-Tieger (2001). 12 Figley & Roop (2006). see Dominguez & Robin (1992).Notes Roth (2006). Roth (2006). 20 There are some significant differences between the work of Myers and Keirsey–see Keirsey (2006) for a further explanation. I am not officially connected to the organization in any way. Keirsey (2006). 18 Some of the world’s best-known leadership consulting firms.d. (2006).) 10 See. for example. 5 Versions of this framework have been popularized by others including Zig Ziglar and Dave Ellis. William Glasser's Reality Therapy/Choice Theory.and trust-related leadership behaviors. Charland (1999) and Ellis (2002) also reference this model. Jackman-Wheitner. Gawain (1985). Gawain's brief discussion on this model. is the only country for which Keirsey has examined all the leaders. power and fun. 14 Most of these are areas commonly explored via life coaching. 15 Gottlieb (2006). (1998). 3 Freedictionary. it's likely that idealists have governed other nations. Whitworth et al. freedom. 11 Robin (1996). 21 Several other authors have written more extensively on this topic.
28 Both Elkin (2003) and Gawain (1985) have written on this tendency. (2006).” 49 Paul (1987). or Jo Stepaniak's "Ask Jo" advice column for vegetarians and vegans at http://www. 36 Ellis & Lankowitz (1995). 46 Covey (1989). Fritz (1999). 29 Gottlieb (2007).” 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. 50 Charland (1999). Matthews & Wilbourne (n. 42 Miller.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs. 26 For more information.com (2008). L.vegsource.). C'deBaca. 43 Institute for Life Coach Training (2006).d. 37 Jackman-Wheitner. 38 Leider (2004). 40 Elkin (2003). 25 . similarly proposes that we have physical survival needs. MacNair presented on “Positions and Interests: Applying Integrative Conflict Resolution Skills to the Left-Wing/Right-Wing Divide. 34 Leider (2004). 27 Wikipedia (2007). provided the helpful explanation upon which this illustration is based. 30 Adapted from Elkin (2003). 41 Elkin (2003). 35 Freedictionary. see Adams (2001). Williamson & Eakes (2006).. and four psychological needs of love/belonging (also referred to as connecting). primary developer of Reality Therapy and Choice Theory. 47 Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (2007).Coincidentally. Leider (2004).wikipedia.com/jo/. Daniel Mayton presented on “Talking to People Who Think You’re Wrong: Why You Should Start the Dialogue. power. Williamson & Eakes (2006). 32 Robert Fritz has used this analogy.” and Rachel M. 48 I had this realization in a workshop on political discourse at the 2005 Counselors for Social Justice and Psychologists for Social Responsibility conference. an instructor at the Institute for Life Coach Training. Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers are classified as Idealists. William Glasser. 39 Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey (2005). Personal communication. freedom and fun. see the Wikipedia entry http://en. 31 Psychologist Michael Eysenck refers to this cycle as the “hedonic treadmill. 44 Jim Vuocolo. Sexual Politics of Meat by the same author. 33 Gawain (1985). 45 If you’re interested in this topic. See Keirsey (2006).
Fritz (1999). 67 Elkin (2003). 74 Bruce Elkin provided helpful coaching during this process. 54 Thanks to Priority Two for this.S. 77 Gottlieb (2007). 2007. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2007). 60 Covey (1989). 72 Rosen (1982). see Elkin (2003). 73 Ellis (2002).d. 59 David (2003). 81 Arbinger Institute (2002. Thanks to Walter Winch for pointing out the UrbanRevision. 78 Hill (1960). Available at http://www. 70 Randall (2007). 68 Thanks to Melody Platz for this additional suggestion.” 66 Gawain (1985). 69 Hill (1960). (2006). is that of Henry Ford. Senge (1990). 64 Bolles (2003). Singer for this insight. Ellis (2002). 65 Jackman-Wheitner (2006) similarly emphasizes the importance of accepting yourself in her “Core Confidence Model. 71 Williamson & Eakes (2006). U.com (2007). 62 Buckingham & Clifton (2001).). 79 Thanks to Yale psychology professor Jerome L. Csikszentmihalyi (1990). n. 57 Kazdin (1994). Gawain (1985).org/index. UrbanRevision. Fritz (1999). 80 For more detail. 58 University of Pennsylvania. 52 51 . a used version will not provide access to the online assessment unless the previous owner did not take the assessment.virtuesinaction. 55 Virtues in Action Institute. 75 Thanks to my former student Jim Basquil for this analogy.S.Hall (2005). 76 Elkin (2003. cited elsewhere here. 53 U. Department of Labor. Williamson & Eakes (2006).com website. 56 Buckingham & Clifton (2001). 83 Ellis (2002). 61 Hill (1960). 63 Because you must utilize a one-user code inside the book to access it. 82 Ellis (2002). 2006). VIA Classification. Dominguez & Robin (1992). One such example.aspx?ContentID=44.
95 Elkin. 98 Elkin. 107 Burns (1980). 93 Elkin (2003). 112 Pausch (2007. Whitworth. Elkin compares the action phase to a sailboat “tacking” or zig-zagging to sail into a headwind. 90 Elkin (2003). 87 Elkin (2003). I recommend consulting their works if you seek additional ideas in this area. 105 Pausch (2007. 91 Thanks for Carnegie Mellon Heinz School professor Lowell Taylor for teaching this concept so well. Gawain (1985). Keirsey (2006). 114 Adapted from sources including Arloski (2007). for example. Gawain and Dyer all stress the importance of defining our ultimate destination while maintaining the ability to change course. 101 See. 104 See. Stoltz (1997).” 99 Ellis (2002). and Williamson and Eakes discuss this danger. 110 Elkin (2003). Glassner (1999). Elkin (2003). 89 Ellis (2002). Fritz. 111 Covey (1989). 102 Gladstone (2007). & Sandahl (1998). Psychologist Leon Festinger was one of the pioneers on the topic of “cognitive dissonance. 86 Ellis (2002). 106 Burns (1980). 92 Elkin (2003). KimseyHouse. 88 Elkin (2003). 94 Thoreau (1854). 113 Covey and Rettig have each written much more extensively on time management. November). 108 Winter (2005). 96 Williamson & Eakes (2006). 103 I do this to an extent when advertising my coaching services! If someone is currently in a problem-solving mindset. 109 Covey (1989). 97 Carson (2003). Gawain (1985). 85 84 .Fritz (1999). 100 Thanks to Marty Levine for his insight on this. Fritz. September). then that’s where I need to meet them. Williams & Davis (2002). for example.
2006). 136 Adams (2001) even lists “holier than thou” as a label commonly placed upon vegetarians. 133 Coincidentally. 135 Arbinger Institute (2002. Covey (1989) notes that it is also possible to have a circle of influence that is actually larger than one's circle of concern. 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. Novak (2008). e. 132 Dyer (2007). 120 The observation that many individuals pursue their needs indirectly is also a core component of William Glasser's Choice Theory. During the 2008 campaigns. INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence (2007). 125 Brooks (2007). Thanks to Noah Lewis for his thoughts on this. 131 Sue & Sue (2003). upon which Reality Therapy is based. 140 I'm not suggesting that either of these candidates was ignoring vision entirely.g. for example. 126 Baker (2008). 129 This is much different from the system I've seen in Europe that I actually like. 137 Bennis (1997). 128 Ellis (2002). 127 Carnegie Mellon economics professor Linda Babcock has reported on her findings in works including Women Don’t Ask. and this theme is also present in conflict negotiation literature. 121 Covey (1989) includes this in his Seven Habits. 123 Thanks to Carnegie Mellon economics professors Linda Babcock and Lowell Taylor for stimulating some of my thinking in this area. Elkin (2003). 138 Baker (2008). The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. 118 Gawain (1985). outspoken nonprofit professionals are increasingly questioning the current effectiveness of their own once-idealized sector.Charland (1999). 122 Gawain (1985) influenced my thinking here. 134 Arbinger Institute (2002. 119 Covey (1989). 117 Covey (1989). but rather that this public exchange and many others are focused at a different level. 139 Thanks to Melody Platz for her insight here. 124 Post & Neimark (2007). 2006). 130 Goldstein (2008). See. 116 115 . candidates including John McCain outlined elements of vision on occasion. in the case where an individual with exceptional wealth or power wealthy doesn't utilize their potential..
166 Greger (2006). 154 Rettig (2006). 165 Greger (2006). 156 Freedictionary. 147 Rollnic & Miller (1995). 159 Thanks to Tom Matura for his ideas and insight here.d. have written an entire book on compassion fatigue as it pertains to professionals and volunteers involved in animal care.). 163 Campbell & Campbell (2006). see Breeze Harper's work at www. David Krackhardt's lectures at Carnegie Mellon's Heinz School also helped to clarify some of this information. 143 Thanks to John McCarthy's counseling internship class for this analogy. Eisman (2006). 158 Marano (2002).sistahveganproject." 149 Hill (1960). 150 Keener (2005). 151 Krackhardt & Hanson (1993). Robbins (2006). The original edition of Gawain's book was published in 1979. 162 Ontario College of Family Physicians (2005).141 142 This is paraphrased from MacNair (2005). 152 Gladwell (2002).org. 168 For more information on this.com. 155 Carson (2003). The lectures of Richard Florida and his colleagues at Carnegie Mellon's Heinz School also helped to clarify some of this information. 144 The former is also called the "Transtheoretical Model of Change. University of Rhode Island Cancer Prevention Research Center (n. . Carol Adams raised some of these points during a presentation at the 2006 North American Vegetarian Society Conference. 146 Cormier & Hackney (2005)." but why use additional large words if we don't need to? 145 Cormier & Hackney (2005). 167 Greger (2006). 170 From James' biography at http://cgcareers. 169 Figley & Roop (2006). 148 Carol Adams also emphasizes that "we can't do someone else's homework for them. Gawain (1985).com. 161 Post & Neimark (2007). for example. 157 Thanks to Tom Matura for this analogy. 164 Kostigen & Rogers (2007). 160 Arloski (2007). 153 Florida (2002).
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This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?