The adventure within

Issue #68

Good afternoon. As well as the usual insightful articles from around the web, this week includes my book notes on Abby Wambach’s new book ‘Wolfpack’. There’s also another fab new mini-interview. And I share some thoughts on embracing the adventure within. Enjoy 😊 –Sam

First thoughts

Have you ever read a quote that, years later, continues to reverberate in your soul? The following quote from Pico Iyer does that for me:

‘I’ve been really lucky to see many, many places. Now, the great adventure is the inner world, now that I’ve spent a lot of time gathering emotions, impressions, and experiences. Now, I just want to sit still for years on end, really, charting that inner landscape because I think anybody who travels knows that you’re not really doing so in order to move around –  you’re travelling in order to be moved. And really what you’re seeing is not just the Grand Canyon or the Great Wall but some moods or intimations or places inside yourself that you never ordinarily see when you’re sleepwalking through your daily life.’

This rings so true. In particular, the idea of ‘charting that inner landscape’. When I think of adventure, I think of exploring places or taking on physical challenges. Adventure is  –  to steal a line from Pixar’s Up  –  out there. That’s how I’ve always thought of it.

Iyer’s point though is that an even greater adventure awaits. The adventure within. And, he suggests, any outer adventure will actually point us back to the greater, more meaningful adventure of discovering places within us that we wouldn’t ordinarily see.

In a similar vein, Marcel Proust writes: 

‘The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is.’

Here’s to possessing other eyes and embracing the unending adventure within!

Insightful articles

1. The end of empathy

‘The new rule for empathy seems to be: reserve it, not for your “enemies,” but for the people you believe are hurt, or you have decided need it the most. Empathy, but just for your own team. And empathizing with the other team? That's practically a taboo.’

Hanna Rosin, NPR

2. Why rituals work

‘Recent research suggests that rituals may be more rational than they appear. Why? Because even simple rituals can be extremely effective. Rituals performed after experiencing losses – from loved ones to lotteries – do alleviate grief, and rituals performed before high-pressure tasks – like singing in public – do in fact reduce anxiety and increase people’s confidence.’

Francesca Gino, Michael I. Norton, Scientific American

3. The future of news is conversation in small groups with trusted voices

‘I think this is where we are heading with our daily news consumption – private groups, only the highest quality, curated by experts that we trust. You can see this change already happening in people’s behavior, partly in reaction to recent events, but also because people are starting to educate themselves on how all of this technology works and what it means to them personally.’

Chikai Ohazama, TechCrunch

4. Cognitive load is real

‘We regularly build systems to create habits that lower the cognitive load, but then, curiosity amplified by greed and fear (plus our search for connection and desire to love) kick in and the whole cycle starts again.’

Seth Godin, blog post

Book notes

Wolfpack

Abby Wombach

I listened to Abby Wambach’s new book ‘Wolfpack’ over the Easter weekend. It’s a quick listen (or read), but packs a big punch. Though her audience is primarily women, her message applies to us all. And, frankly, it’s about time those of us who are men, start drawing our inspiration from more women.

Abby is a trailblazer. Her career as a US international football (soccer) player is legendary. She has scored more international goals than any other woman or man. And it’s in her football career that she first learnt about being part of a wolfpack. Of winning and losing as a team. As one. 

Now she’s taking what she learnt in the context of her team to the wider world. And her book is loaded with powerful messages.

One of these messages was on leading from the bench. She shares how she struggled with her transition to no longer being in the starting lineup for the US and being on the bench. She could have moped on the sidelines. Instead she owned this new role and chose to lead from there. 

‘I screamed so loudly, obnoxiously, and relentlessly that the coach moved me to the far side of the bench,’ she writes. ‘I kept water ready for players coming off the field. I celebrated when goals were scored, and I kept believing in us even when mistakes were made... The starters had left it all on the field; I'd left it all on the bench.’

What a strong reminder that every role matters. We can lead from wherever we are.

I also loved Abby’s message about owning your greatness. Talking about her desire to win and her belief that she could change things in a match, she writes:

‘What I learned is that the most inspiring thing on earth is a woman who believes in herself, who gives 100 percent, and who owns her greatness unapologetically.’

This reminded me somewhat of the famous Howard Thurman quote:

‘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.’

We need to unleash our best self on the world and let the world deal with that. No apologies necessary!

All told, this was a great, motivational book from an inspirational woman.

Interesting people

Seven questions with Leslie K

Leslie was born in the USA, spent nearly 9 years in the UK, and now lives in the Middle East, where no one believes she’s American until she tells them her grandparents were born in Mexico. In what feels like another lifetime ago, she spearheaded a small performing arts venue. In her current role, she’s learning a second language and having spiritual conversations about the Creator with her local friends.

1. What’s a book you’ve read – recently or otherwise – that has significantly affected how you see the world?

Marilyn Vancil’s ‘Self to Lose, Self to Find’. This is far and away the Enneagram resource I’ve connected with most deeply, particularly in the way she articulates the ‘authentic’ and ‘adapted’ self. I really value her perspective on the Enneagram as being a tool to help us rightly reflect the glory of God we were each uniquely created to reflect, having been made in His image. In chapter nine, she offers a kind of ‘prophetic’ invitation of love for each personality type that I found profoundly moving, and reference often.

2. What’s the biggest challenge or obstacle you’ve had to overcome in getting to where you are today?

Do governmental bureaucracies for obtaining residency visas count?

3. What aspect of your job is the most interesting?

Learning to discover and live in the mystery of my faith, its Holy Book, and the God who is three-in-one. In the work we do, growing in my understanding of the Father, Son and Spirit has just about completely transformed my understanding of the Gospel message. It no longer starts with ‘you’re a sinner separated from God,’ (because how is that Good News?), but instead it begins with ‘You are a beloved one invited into relationship with the almighty, loving Creator.’ I get way more excited about sharing that news. It’s been a really revelatory journey for me. Richard Rohr puts it that ‘every living thing carries the divine imprint’ – I love that it’s my job to look for, affirm, and encourage that imprint in everyone I encounter.

Plus, I learn other bonus insights living in the land of ancient scriptures, like: did you know that fig leaves feel like sandpaper? I didn’t, until I lived in a place where there’s several on my block. So, as a local resident observed: ‘Adam and Eve must have felt incredible shame to choose such an uncomfortable leaf to clothe themselves.’

4. What's a goal or dream you have that you haven't pursued yet?

To work for the Walt Disney Company. Some may think they’re the ‘big, bad corporation,’ but seriously, nobody nails customer experience like Disney. They know how to literally make magic, and awaken the child-like wonder we all need a little bit more of in our lives. After visiting the Magic Kingdom in Florida as an adult (and bursting into tears of joy upon spotting Cinderella’s castle from the top of Main Street) I decided I needed to figure out how to work for whoever is responsible for creating such magical, wondrous experiences so they can teach me their ways, and I can do the same. I’ve learned they’re called ‘Imagineers’. Doesn’t that sound like the best job?

5. What cause or issue are you personally passionate about at the moment?

I don’t know that the Enneagram counts as an ‘issue’ or ‘cause,’ but it’s no exaggeration to say that over the last two years, it’s been a transformative tool for me. So, I’m kind of passionate about it.

6. What do you do when you’re in need of joy, peace, calm, or focus?

I am learning to meditate, and spend time in silent contemplation. Being still is challenging for me, but refreshing to my soul. I also have a deep love of music, and have some go-to playlists and songs that help me focus and centre.

7. What's something that costs £20 ($25) or less that you think everyone should get? 

Whatever it is that makes you laugh – a box set of your favourite sit com, a board game, a goofy toy to sit on your office desk, a frame for the photo of your friends that cracks you up. Seriously. Laughter is so important. My husband and I make it a goal to laugh together every day. An ancient proverb says that, ‘A cheerful heart is good medicine,’ so consider it an investment in your health.