Chatting with Phyllis Serene on Emotional Fitness

I had a wonderful time chatting with Phyllis here at Mestizo in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. We discussed a wide range of applications, all grounded in healthy emotional fitness.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this talk. Can you relate? Am I missing anything? Do you agree with how relevant I think this is for all of us?

The Case Against Grit

Inspired by this article at The Atlantic, I had some further thoughts on The Case Against (and For) Grit.

The Case Against Grit

I absolutely concur with the premise of the article, that it’s a challenge to know whether the first passion in a person’s life has sustainability; I put that word in italics because it’s relevant on numerous levels.

Sustainability can be considered on the personal interest level, which is what the article’s premise discussed, but it also has to be considered on a financial level, a social impact level, and others relative to the pursuit. A young child may not realize the financial difficulties of being an artist, yet that’s a challenging thing to be conclusive about with a budding talent; they may truly be able to earn a livable income, or not care if they don’t, difficult to say with such a young human.

On the other hand, there’s so much benefit and growth when focusing on a singular pursuit, and that’s hard to find. Dismissing a young passion because of fears of practicality may miss a tremendous growth opportunity for the child, and can impose self doubt and insecurity depending on how the child interprets the guidance.

When To Reconsider?

I also know that there are times for adults where they feel stuck, overly obligated, to continue a path that no longer inspires or fuels them. This is such a personal choice, to apply grit and stick it out for the payoffs of maintaining said obligations (i.e. being a provider for a family), that each person has to make their own decision.

Regrettably, this quality of grit is often lost or diminished because of cultural expectations. I believe many men are struggling with their sense of masculinity because circumstances like these provoke feelings of emasculation, confusion, or loss of identity, when considering changing their role as provider.

Note: I’m describing a very narrow, albeit common, manifestation of circumstances. In no way am I trying to make broad statements on all providers or all situations of obligation.

How To Make Changes?

Making changes to established structures in life can be challenging, but certainly do-able. Communication is key, and conveying emotional content is very important.

Sharing how you feel as you consider, or act upon, changes helps those that might be impacted to understand you at a core, human level. Sharing openly amongst those that can easily be supportive is important as well, so that you feel supported in this potent, personal decision.

Feeling supported in also important, because it’s likely that you’ll encounter resistance and opposition from those that will be impacted. Whether you allow that resistance to dissuade you is a personal choice, but when you already have support, you can feel more relaxed and able to hear and receive the impact of your choice from others without feeling defensive, without simply feeling the need to cave into the desires of others.

The Takeaway

Simple steps, but often challenging in application. Change is absolutely possible, and care is often required while making it. It’s your personal decision whether it’s the healthiest thing for you to continue applying grit, or to change course because circumstances no longer serve you.

Managing my personal energy levels

Will I see you tomorrow?

There is no greater indicator of future behavior than the answer to this question.

Fly-by, drive-by, anonymous, see-you-sucker interactions are easy to start, easy to be disappointed by, hard to count on when it comes to civility or a career.

We work to create the alternative. Masks off, snarkiness set aside, committed to long haul. That’s the connection that the connection economy is built on.

Seth Godin

Whew. This really hits home.

I just sent out my very first email blast yesterday, offering my Life Coaching services. I got a tremendous response from, so encouraging and exciting, yet this blog entry brought up an important aspect that is fully my responsibility… my energy levels. I want each of my interactions with others to be pristine, as clear-minded, transparent, and vulnerable as possible, but a major hindrance to that is how energized I feel, wholly dependent on how well I’ve taken care of myself.

Lately, I’ve had a lot on my mind, and have been acting inward. This, too, determines how much energy I have available to share with others, and is also wholly my responsibility. While I can’t create more energy out of nothing, I want to be aware of how I manage myself, how I present myself, and how I interact.

I think this is important because, when I’m inward at times, people perceive me as less loving, or that they are less important to me. This is absolutely untrue. I have so many people in my life, but I can’t share myself to the same degree at all times, simply because I have such a full life; sometimes full just being by myself.

I believe this may be true for others, and that people may misunderstand “distance” in time or space for lack of affection. Not always, of course, but I know this is true for me… perhaps its true for others as well.

As an amends to this behavior, I commit to doing better managing my energy, and/or clearly communicating when I’m less available than I care to be. At the same time, I ask that you give me the benefit of the doubt, and presume I love you just the same (if not more) than the last time I spent time with you. If you need more from me in the moment, please ask, and I’ll communicate what I have to give.

A New Program: Letters of Diplomacy

I’m starting a new series of posts, for those times when communications are challenging. There have been countless times when someone just didn’t know how to work things out with someone, and a written letter was a productive tool. I’ll be writing up examples of letters that can work in those situations. If you have suggestions of challenging situations, or of letters you think would work, please let me know!

Letters of Diplomacy: Please turn off ALLCAPS

To Whom It May Concern, I’ve been coached to say this to you so that we can be as productive as possible. You may not realize how challenging it is to rapidly develop the features you’re asking for, while keeping up with all of your feedback. I certainly don’t want you to stop what you’re doing, and I want to reassure you that I’m working as fast as I can. At this point, I’m stressed, but continuing to work as best I can. It would really help if you could keep this in mind while we work through the remaining details. I apologize if I can’t quite go as fast as you want, but I am doing my very best. Please also prioritize the most essential features first and foremost. We can continue developing after “Go Live” for the less essential features. Sincerely, Your Custom Software Developer

Emotional Fitness for Techies v1.1

I’m hoping to present my topic “Emotional Fitness for Techies v1.1” at the LA Drupal 2012 camp at the end of this month, July 28-29, 2012. You can see my submission here: The intent is to take the topic of emotional development, and to help frame it in the context of “personal style”, an individual’s truth. We’ll review clear communication, emotional content, and I might even throw in some tips on “how to approach strangers”. Of course, this is an Open Source conference, so it’s absolutely not all about me. I’m bringing up topics, but am very eager to hear what others have to share from their experience and knowledge. I hope to see you there!