I often go through periods of contraction and expansion.
In the last few weeks, I chose expansion.
Admittedly, it was an odd time to choose expansion. My plate, if I’d looked at it as objectively as humanly possible, I would have decided that it was already full. Or, at the very least, I would have recognized that my energy levels were starting to wane, and that expanding at this time was sure to invite trouble.
Now, there could be a rather obvious lesson here, that expansion is bad, and contraction is good.
But that’s not the way I see it. Good or bad can apply to specific situations – games, business metrics, legal matters – situations where measurements are precise, and they mean something.
There are plenty of situations in life that aren’t subject to the simplistic logic of good or bad.
Publishing daily, for example, is not good or bad. It could be tied to business metrics, but every strategy has its pros and cons.
What I’m seeing for myself is that while I want to continue to expand as a leader, I want to contract my project load. Simplify. Create more focus.
Starting another podcast is the perfect example. I originally got into it to create more variety in my daily blogging efforts. But I’m already starting to see that it’s not keeping my life easy or streamlined at all. It’s taking up a lot of time and energy.
There are times to expand. Times to contract. And there are different areas of life to look at – different levers to adjust.
You may never create all you wish to create if you don’t.
Plus, anything short of making a mess is playing it safe.
It falls well outside of expansion. And if you aren’t expanding, aren’t you shrinking?
We often assume messes will be hard to clean up. But what if our lives were to expand to the point where the mountain of success created far surpasses the molehill that needs to be cleaned up? What if, by that time, you could have someone else clean it up, or even get a machine to do the dirty work?
You can figure out the mess later. The first part – the process of making a mess – is far more important.
And I’m also starting to get a better sense of things I want to do and things I don’t want to be so involved in. Some of this surprised me. Just today I realized I may not want to be the one doing interviews on my podcast.
But that doesn’t mean I plan to stop podcasting. It means there are shoes to fill. I would love to collaborate with a sharp interviewer on future episodes.
I can now see I didn’t have much access or a perspective on this (and other matters) before, and I’m not sure I would if 1) I hadn’t taken a break earlier this month, and 2) I didn’t opt to take a yearlong leadership and management program beginning June 11.
The key priorities in my life have automatically risen to the top of my list, while the lesser priorities have automatically fallen to the bottom. To be honest, if it doesn’t make my top five to 10, I’m probably not even looking at it right now.
Now, there are promises to be kept, and I know there are several of those in my email. They are on my to-do list as well. Be patient – I will get to you as soon as I can. I’m not looking to escape responsibility – I’m looking to expand. I just haven’t figured out what that’s going to look like in the new reality I’m creating.
But at this point, I could see myself deleting more emails than not, at least until I have people in place to handle different responsibilities in my business. And, by the way, I’m deciding whether to put the call out on my blog. I will have a better idea of whether this is something I want to do once I’ve had a better night’s sleep.
If there’s a moral to all this, it’s that:
Possibilities are nearly unlimited when you’re working with other sharp, ambitious people. It’s capped when you’re busy trying to be a superhero.
Have you ever been tossed into a situation where you were given more to do than you thought you could realistically handle?
How did that make you feel? How did you respond?
It’s human nature to resist expansion, even when we know we desire growth.
But going from an amateur to professional doesn’t mean less work and less responsibility. Quite the contrary – it usually means more work and more responsibility.
We often say or think to ourselves, “wouldn’t it be nice if…” But rarely do we consider the implications of promotion.
Leveling up, it turns out, isn’t always the bed of thornless roses we expect it to be.
And as ominous as this might sound, for you to rise to the next level, you’ll probably need to face something you’ve been resisting.
This doesn’t necessarily mean facing ghastly ghosts or an anonymous mask-wearing, chainsaw-wielding psychopath. This is a key distinction.
But step into an uncomfortable situation, and chances are you’ll come face to face with resistance – fear of rejection, unworthiness, too much responsibility, or otherwise.
It can come as a bit of a surprise, especially if it’s something you thought you had long left in the dust. No matter how developed you think you might be, running and hiding can still seem like an attractive option.
But if you are faced with greater obstacles, remember this. First, it probably isn’t anything you haven’t faced before – just an iteration on something you’ve already encountered. Second, it means you’re stepping into the realm of expansion, where rapid growth and breakthrough is possible.
With that, here’s what I made for you this week:
David Andrew Wiebe
I publish daily to inspire creatives and creators just like you.
Notion is a great tool for keeping your projects organized.
There’s a personal development program I’ve been through three times, and each time I go through it, I learn more about myself and what matters most to me. I’ve also been able to improve my health, grow my business, and challenge myself intellectually.
Several of my classmates have said they feel this way.
And it’s hardly surprising. Our course officially began last weekend, and before we knew it, we were plunged into a long week of calls, meetings, and training. To say nothing of our daily lives, commitments, and work in general.
I feel a bit fried myself. Even though I’ve basically kept to a minimum viable routine. There hasn’t really been time for extras.