Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom helps people realize their unique importance. Using my knowledge of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, my experience with therapy, coaching, somatic healing, and personal growth I create products to help you discover, develop, and express the elements of your identity critical to your health and your contribution to our world. My goal is to research, develop, and disseminate these materials so that every individual can reconnect with their uniqueness, realize their passion and purpose, and live the life they were born to live.
To close out the 10-part Curiosity interview series, the first on KEW, I reflect on the 9 interesting people I got to talk to. I asked everyone what role Curiosity had played in their lives and how it helped get them to where they are today.
I am grateful and amazed that these folks would spend some time with us. I know some people want to promote, but everyone had something unique to say about Curiosity.
I am also impressed by both the breadth of observations people made about Curiosity, and also the recurring themes shared.
Above all else, my biggest takeaway is to LOVE YOURSELF.
I hope you enjoy my summary and sharing session here.
Twenty years of training and working as an Ecologist and Evolutionary Biologist means I see everything as a system of interacting parts. I really can’t see the trees for the forest. When I look at a part, I see the system to which it belongs. It’s a curse.
An example is when I worked for a state environmental agency. I absolutely needed my manager to explain to me how my position fit in to the larger system (the agency). I needed to understand how the system worked, at least on a cursory level, to really understand what my job was. Even at one of my first jobs delivering pizza, it wasn’t until I had participated in the whole life cycle of phone order to ticket to cooking to delivery to balancing the drawer at the end of the night that the whole thing made sense and that I had a sense of purpose.
In the context of the Are vs. Should problem, the ‘system’ (and this could be many things, but here I mean American capitalism as an example) is waaaay to skewed toward the Should to the point that the Ares are steadily losing value. In this scenario, it becomes extra difficult to develop our Ares when the deck is stacked against it.
But more than that, the global system leaves too many people unable to even ponder the Are vs Should Problem. If you don’t have enough food, shelter, and medicine to keep you safe and healthy, you have no need to ponder life’s more philosophical problems. You care not for the Should nor the Are, as you are too busy trying not to die. This, I suggest, is a problem with the system that can potentially be solved by getting everyone more in their Are.
In other words, we need to look upstream at how the larger system works, and how it impedes our progress, to make it possible for us to change.
As we move forward trying to discern the gist of the Are vs. Should Problem, I want to describe both the general dilemma and share a few specific examples. Generally speaking, you know you are in the Are vs. Should Problem when you experience discomfort, cognitive dissonance, anxiety, fear, anger, and other uncomfortable emotions. Of course, there could be many causes for these states of mind and it’s ALWAYS hard to identify the cause. It’s like when my kids get sick I always want to know where and when they picked up the virus or bacteria. We are all Sherlock Holmes to some degree and need to know WHY things happen. With the Are vs Should Problem it is difficult because the symptoms are so universal.
On the other hand, it could be that any discomfort, to some degree, is RELATED to the Are vs. Should problem and I make the assumption that this is nearly always the case. Despite the multitude of things that can happen to a human and the variety of reactions we can have, I’ll argue that the cognitive dissonance related to these reactions is in part a result of the struggle between who you ARE and who you think you SHOULD BE.
If you look at the Episodes I have recorded, you will see the Are vs. Should problem at work in many forms. Analysis Paralysis is something we all experience where we can’t make a decision, get anxious, and lose the ability to move forward. To some degree, this is a result of the conflict between what the person we ARE would do, and what society/family/job tells us we SHOULD do. We all experience internal conflict and Doubt about our decisions and what the outcomes will be. This is the essence of the Are vs. Should problem. Similarly, struggles between narcissists and codependents epitomize the ARE and SHOULD extremes between two different people where each person is struggling between extremes of selfishness and caretaking.
Though I can’t yet offer distinct solutions about which voice to listen to, I do know that this struggle is fairly universal. I talk about this in episode about different vs. the same. I think this is because the struggle between these competing personalities (ARE vs. SHOULD) can be isolating and lead us to spend a lot of time ‘in our heads’ and at the very least we need to be aware of how isolating this struggle can be. When we are in our heads, we are feeling more pressure from the SHOULD and need to get more inside our ARE. Think about it, who is the voice in your head most of the time? Who are you talking to? Who are you?? The more in your head you are, the more ‘should’ you are being.
Which person do you want to be? This is where we will be headed in future episodes. This is the type of person you are being – but is it the type of person you want to be?? Who do you REALLY want to be? The are or the should? This dissonance can be mild or critical. This is what the personal inventory is all about, identifying and ranking your traits and prioritizing what to do about it.
In this episode I share a few examples ranging from fairly benign to critically important. Struggles between the ARE and SHOULD can create chronic anxiety, stress, and fear. Do you want to live in a state of anxiety all the time? Our perspectives about gender roles or blue and pink jobs can greatly influence some people’s choices and experiences. Isn’t it important we figure out what matters to us as individuals and each other? Does it really matter if a woman wears pants to work or makes as much money as her male counterparts? Some times it most certainly does matter, and the potential outcomes are disastrous. Other times it might not matter so much. It comes down to the type of society we want to live in and be (see the Dream Bigger Episode) and what rules we think are worth defending, and which ones are not.
The first step, again, is to lay out your Personal Inventory prioritize each item, and decide what matters. This will determine your personal values and beliefs.
In upcoming episodes I will discuss how these personal values lead to society-level norms, rules, and laws. I will start to dissect how the ARE and SHOULD come to be, and ultimately, how learning not to care what people think goes a long way to choosing which voices you want to hear.
In this first of ten Curiosity interviews I introduce you to Paul Gadola. As I told Paul a few days ago, he is someone who has climbed the mountain, attainted Wisdom, and come back down the mountain to share the Wisdom with us. He has not only put a lot of energy into figuring some things out, he is putting a lot of energy into explaining what he has learned. Chief among his tenets is to Love yourself first. I think you get a pretty good glimpse at that person in the hour that we talked.
I’m proud to share this experience with you, and grateful to have come to know Paul as a colleague and buddy. We talk about Curiosity, but also about self discipline, integrity, and Love. If I never shared this interview with the world I would still be a better person for having experienced it. I truly hope you take the time to watch and to listen to what Paul shares. There is much to learn and more to think about.
I am also fortunate to be reading a draft of book Paul is working on. I will be sure to keep you posted as that evolves.
I am learning that our brain, mind, head, is not who we ARE. We are not the VOICE in our heads, we are the one LISTENING to the voice in our heads. What we call ‘our head’ is largely our analytical mind, and it’s just a part of the larger ‘us’ or ‘self’.
Yeah, that’s a lot to ingest. And it’s a lot for me to type out and mean. It’s a compilation of things I’ve learned over the last decade. In traditional talk therapy. Through the myriad self help, neuroscience, and personal growth books I’ve read. And, more recently, through some somatic healing work I’ve been doing. But the more I learn, the more I realize – at the VERY LEAST – our ‘head’ is only one part of us.
I think many of us have lived the majority of our lives in our heads. And it makes sense. Our heads communicate in the same language we speak. Our heads offer us company and advice. Our heads seem like ‘us’. And, I guess, they are. But our head does not have to be our boss. In fact, our head doesn’t always have the right answers. Our head isn’t always the best source of advice. Our head is comprised of multiple parts that might actually be less helpful as advisors than our body, our heart, or ‘gut’. Certainly, it is worth getting to know the multiple parts that comprise our selves, and ‘getting out of our heads’ is an entry point to that pathway.
Getting out of our heads can begin by simply not listening to the voices that arise there. Meditation is a great method to learn how to not listen. Rather than reinventing the wheel, following a meditation plan to stop the ‘monkey mind’, ‘self talk’, ‘chatter’, and other noise that goes on in our heads is an excellent primer on this process.
And once you can stop listening to your analytical mind, the doors open up to listen to all the other parts of you. For me, the discovery that I am more than just my analytical mind has been absolutely life changing. It’s the closest thing to magic I’ve ever experienced. It’s why I tried psychedelic drugs in my youth. It’s what I have longed for my whole life – and it was there all along. Now that I have learned to listen to my body instead of my mind, I have truly started to change.
On our journey to define the ARE vs SHOULD problem (Episode 50), we must first define the ‘existing conditions’. Like many scientific endeavors (and I’m NOT saying this is a scientific endeavor, rather, that I will take a scientific APPROACH), the Are vs Should investigation needs to know where it’s coming from to understand where it’s going.
And, really, the personal inventory is just that – it defines where we are at the beginning of our adventure. Doesn’t every good movie do the same thing? Isn’t this really just a classic ‘set the scene’ device we use to tell stories and keep them interesting?
And so on the path to personal growth and figuring out the Are vs. Should problem, we will first lay everything out on the table and start from there. Carlos Castaneda, in the books he wrote about Don Juan Matus, talked a lot about the table, and the tonal, as being the field of the ‘known’ or the ‘earthly’ possessions humans carry around with them.
But the personal inventory is about much more than just physical objects. It’s the feelings we have, the people we know, the relationships we build, the cars we drive, the foods we eat, and so on, and so on, ad infinitum.
Truly, the personal inventory is the story of everything that has happened to us in our lives up to the point at which we build the personal inventory. And, yes, it’s a huge job and no, I don’t expect you to nail every last thing.
The idea is that, if someone asked you about the ‘basics’ of the inventory: your likes, dislikes, wants, needs, desires, values, etc. you’d probably be able to come up with a handful of things quickly. And you might even think that those things ‘pretty much’ described who you are. And that’s the problem. We don’t see ourselves as being all that complex. Or maybe not AS complex as we truly are.
We are ourselves and our experiences. So TIME is a huge factor here. Our personal inventory is also our personal HISTORY. Much of the personal inventory is things we haven’t done, or thought about, in a long time. It’s our past and our present. It’s who we ARE and who we WERE. It’s physical and it’s metaphysical.
And, again, the idea is not to be complete nor obsessive. The idea is to think about this as much as we can, to establish a ‘who am I’ table full of things, and then to move forward.
Building your personal inventory can be fun. You will be surprised how interesting you are if you push yourself beyond your comfort zone and tolerate the pain of a thorough investigation of your self.
And, truly, if you don’t put forth an earnest effort (and you must define what that is for yourself), you will not make much progress on the Are vs. Should problem. The more you reveal about yourself, the more material you will have to work with.
While I’m not entirely sure what will come next, it will very likely focus on an ASSESSMENT of the personal inventory to think about where and how these pieces of you came to be. And whether they need to stay. Or go. And whether there are things missing that you wish were there. Please comment below with thoughts you might have about what comes next. More next week in Episode 52.
I can’t wait for you to watch or listen to this weeks’ Curiosity interview. Dan Faill is one of those guys we can all learn from AND you’ll have a blast while you learn. After a successful career helping college students navigate greek life, Dan has transitioned to full time keynote speaker. He shares his knowledge, experience, and wisdom with us to help improve our lives.
Dan is not afraid of the tough topics, rather he EMBRACES them in ways that make us comfortable with the uncomfortable.
You will find links to all of Dan’s work here, and he has a glorious social media presence.
I met DJ Doran when he reached out to interview me about my podcast. We hit it off rather quickly, and of course I had to have him on to discuss Curiosity.
In fact, the whole Curiosity interview series was inspired by DJ!
See, DJ told me my podcast made him curious, and he’s a very curious guy as you’ll see. And I realized that I am driven, in large part, by curiosity. It’s in my daily life, it’s in my music, and it’s in KEW. But I had never thought about it, and certainly hadn’t realized it.
DJ is an amazing guy. After a successful career as a pilot in the Air Force Reserves, he has become a leader and visionary in the LGBTQ community. He has lived on a sailboat. He has a daughter. He’s the model of professionalism, yet super laid back. He’s knowledgeable as hell, but maintains a natural curiosity about the world around us.
Curiosity is funny like that. It isn’t obvious. Some people have it and others don’t seem to care. For people like DJ and me, we sort of automatically bring curiosity into our daily endeavors. We can’t help it. It’s natural. And, as DJ will explain, curiosity can be very nuanced.
Curiosity can be brave. It can be scary. And it carries with it a certain responsibility to grow.
Curiosity can reveal who your real friends are. It is our ally.
But I’m letting my curiosity be too verbose.
To maintain the organic nature of our chat, I include the entire conversation here. I apologize for my audio, which is distorted, but DJ sounds great.
Please explore DJ’s work. You can find links to most of what he does on his facebook site(his podcast) and at Aequalitas media (his media company).
I hope you enjoy listening to or watching the interview as much as we did doing it.
Time. It’s our most valuable resource, yet for half our lives we think we have enough. Hell, we think we’re immortal for a good part of our lives, as if we have all the time in the world. Youth, is wasted on the young; retirement, on the old. But all of that is just to say we’re human. We suffer.
And as I talk about in Episode 37: The Currency of Life, Time is a resource. It’s something we SPEND. We spend our time doing x, y, z. We spend it at work. We spend it in traffic. Hopefully, we spend some doing things we love. We exchange time for money, to buy things to do with our time. Then we don’t have any time to do those things because we want more money. And so on, and so on.
“There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village. As he sat, he saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite few big fish.The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?” The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.” “Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished. “This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said. The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?” The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.” The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman.“ I am a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to Sao Paulo, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.” The fisherman continues, “And after that?” The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.” The fisherman asks, “And after that?” The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!” The fisherman was puzzled, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”
What would you rather be spending your time doing?
Time IS limited, and what you do with yours can make or break how you feel when you die. I often think about how I will feel on my proverbial deathbed (if I’m lucky enough to go out with a minute to ponder such things). What will I think of how I spent my time?