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10 That Which Is Boundless

Image nafra cendrers via Flickr

I went searching for a word the other day because I was trying to describe a feeling really.

The word I was searching for had to be bold enough to hold the entire set of shared characteristics found in the ideas, causes, people, products and companies we love most – the one’s we’re willing to commit more than words and money too, the one’s we’re willing to give some part of our soul. (Obviously this is not a simple, practical topic, but it’s an important exploration.)

I believe there are, in fact, a set of commonly definable characteristics contained in the things we love and I think it’s something that can be learned and employed by individuals and companies alike as a way to construct things that are very attractive.

The word that settled on me was boundless.

Boundless joy, boundless energy, boundless time, boundless love, boundless possibility – that’s what I was looking for.

So, why do I care about this particular idea enough to stretch to find a singular word to house it?

I happen to think these characteristics of commitment, as I’ve started to refer to them, and our ability to embrace them and adopt them in our own lives might be the ultimate secret to success.

If business owners were to use this idea as a filter for strategy, innovation, culture and marketing, if individuals could use it as guidance system for decision-making, goal achievement and course correction, I believe all resistance to success could be worn away and we could engage the full possibility of our lives and our businesses.

And from that something remarkable could emerge – something boundless.

I’d like to offer some thoughts on the characteristics of boundless from my view.

Feels like play

When I was growing up we lived on a plot of land that had about 20 acres of wooded creek bed. My brothers and I would disappear into this wonderland roused only by the sound of my mother ringing the lunch or dinner bell.

Any sense of time faded as we immersed ourselves in the day’s adventure.  Work that is boundless has this same quality. Ideas and individuals that inspire us bare a lightness that comforts.

Resonates

If I stop to witness my thoughts and feelings when I’m considering something I’ll often receive mental and emotional notes that help me filter my thoughts. I think it acts a bit like a compass and can be a tremendous guide for that thing we call “gut feeling.”

The ideas and products that I love to love somehow tap that internal sense of purpose and practically vibrate internally.

Persistent

Sometimes when I write something and think it’s very good, I’ll get up the next morning and see it in the most unflattering way. I should probably sleep on my writing more than I do, but the opposite happens as well.

When something shows up the next day and the next day and the next and I still find a persistent commitment exists, I know I need to follow it. That’s the thing about something remarkable – it keeps showing up.

It inspires

Everyone loves a great story. We plunge ourselves into books, movies and the fantasy worlds of video games not purely as a way to escape reality, but as a  way to be a part of a jouney that inspires us.

We want to be a part of something that feels epic, worth doing, worth committing to, something that maybe shows us the best part of ourselves. Organizations that offer us that earn our commitment.

Graceful

It would be a stretch to suggest I was a big fan of ballet, but I can think of no better example of gracefulness. The trick is that it required so much imperceptible power to pull off what they do in such fluid manner.

I think that’s true about things that attract my commitment. Often times they are the ideas and innovations that offer something I really want, something that offers me a great deal of value, in ways that are surprising simple and graceful.

Unreasonable

Have you ever wrestled with an idea that was so big you immediately dismissed it? You said something like, that’s ridiculous, who am I to think like that? But then it kept coming back, almost taunting you as you endeavored without success to ignore it.

Some of the most audacious ideas and people in our lives are those that at first pass seem utterly unreasonable. This can be because they seem too simple, too bold, too risky, or even because we can’t figure out how to let go of the way we’ve always defined ourselves in order to create the life that embracing this unreasonable thing will permit us to do.

Growth through risk

Over the years I’ve come to realize that the things I fear the most often hold the greatest potential for growth. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that if I feel fear the universe is trying to tell me this is something I need to look into on the path to growth.

There’s a wonderful line in the book Anam Cara by John O’Donohue that captures this idea nicely – The soul loves risk: it is only through the door of risk that growth can enter.

I plan, over the next few months, to explore this Boundless theme and I hope you’ll offer your thoughts and observations on the ideas, innovations, people, products and companies that define this idea in your world.

29 What About Now

This week I wrote a post about what it’s like to do work you love and what you might have give up in order to practice your craft. That’s the beautiful and sometimes tragic thing about owning a small business.

The post was picked up and run in the weekly Etsy Success Newsletter and consequently my site was overrun (in a good way) by hoards of artists doing what they love, but often times without the financial reward as of yet that made their venture make sense to most.

If you want some inspiration glace at the post, but pour over the comments – they are by far the most moving words that have ever appeared on this blog. (Side note – if you’re not shopping on Etsy you are missing out on the easiest way to find very cool, creative and unique gifts.)

The post is a pretty high level riff on what I believe about being in business, but sometimes you also need the practical, okay, I am doing what I love, but I lose focus and I get stuck – how do I get unstuck and back on track.

What about now?

I don’t know if I have the answer for that, but I can tell you what I do to get back in touch with the purpose for my business.

Feed the head

Between the highs and lows of reading email, pouring over industry blogs, and creating compelling arguments for why someone should choose your business or product, the mind can get exhausted.

For me, one of the smartest things I can do, before I ever turn my computer on, is to read something that makes my brain smile. There are many books that fit that category, for some it might be a sacred text like The Bible or The Upanishads . For me these days it’s Anam Cara by John Donahue. It’s a book I’ve been through numerous times and still find new insights with each reading.

If I start my day that way I always have a good day

Give in

When I get stuck, I start judging everything as either right or wrong. I start reacting to things that don’t matter. I get defensive about emails that point out my mistakes in grammar. (I know, hard to imagine I get those, right?)

When I eventually get around to wondering why I’m stuck, I make a point to consciously give in and release judging anything as either good or bad for as long as I can. It’s amazing how your perspective on the things going on around you can change when you decide to give in and witness your thoughts instead.

Give out

Another sure sign that I’m stuck is that I start acting out of scarcity rather than abundance. I know for certain there is more out there in the world than I could ever consume, so when I start thinking solely about what’s in it for me, I’m headed for a rough day.

My routine for getting out of this mindset is to simply start giving gifts to everyone I meet during the day. This is actually easier than it sounds. In some cases I do go out of my way to make a physical gift, but I can also make a referral, send a handwritten thank you or even offer a silent gift to a stranger at lunch. Sappy as it sounds, I’m the one that gets the biggest gift that day!

I think we can make this whole business thing so hard, but it’s not really that hard at all. In fact the beauty of owning a business where you do what you love is that sometimes the right thing is the easiest thing to do. (with apologies to The Fray)

Sorry if it seems like my marketing blog is wandering off in odd and mushy directions, must be spring, but to me there’s little distinction when it comes to small business between the things that drive our lives and those that drive our businesses.