The last few days I haven’t been feeling all that well—just the usual monthly whathaveyou. So I determined that I would snuggle up in a warm blanket in my comfy armchair with my computer, and good food, and lots of water, and do whatever seemed to make sense at the time.

I wouldn’t force myself to work—I wouldn’t even think about doing work.

But once I really cleared my head and got relaxed (and took some painkillers)... there were all these fantastically interesting things going on. And suddenly there was so much to be engaged in and excited about, so much to make. And I was the one who could do it, so of course I did it—thing after thing after thing. For Marty, for the Usual Error, for the Triiibe. And before I knew it, the few days that were supposed to be my break so that I could rest, my respite from mandatory tasklists… had turned into the most exhilarating, most productive, most bizarrely enjoyable few days I’ve had in weeks.

I say to you: Come again!? What’s that about? I’m getting more done in 24 hours than I’ve done in the last week. Is there some kind of boat-tipping effect, where I add more and more to my schedule and get more and more stressed, but at a certain point I add just enough and all of a sudden I’m swimming in flow? (That was not a cycle joke. That was a Csikszentmihalyi joke.)

I know. It’s too late to take it back. I see it. Go ahead. Laugh some more at the irony.

Flow, indeed.

Terrified (Out of Habit)

My first speech at Toastmasters (I know, took me long enough!) is scheduled for Monday morning, bright and early. I’m serious when I say bright and early. The meeting itself starts at 6:45 am, which forces me to make good on my 5:15 am wake-up blabber. Nice to have the universe looking out for me. (I’m not sure that’s sarcasm. I rather like Toastmasters!)

I’ve noticed that I have a strange propensity to spout off about my personal terror without actually feeling a whole lot of personal terror. There is some mild anxiety—will I disappoint myself? Will I amaze myself?—but I’m not nearly as worried or afraid as you might expect when I say things like this: “Oh my god, I haven’t touched my speech yet. I’m teeerrrified.” If the words don’t convey it, my tone of voice will. And then people start to comfort and reassure me, and a voice in my head goes, “What? You’re not that scared. In fact, I think you’re making yourself that scared by telling yourself you’re that scared. Stop that!!”

The funny thing is, that voice is completely right. I’m really not that scared. Part of me can’t even grasp being that scared about something so little and silly (and exciting and interesting and growth-inducing—and FUN!). And I think I may understand what’s going on. I’m terrified… out of habit.

I have a funny propensity to minimize myself. To ensmallenate myself. I have this funny idea (way back in the brainwashed, badly malprogrammed part of my brain) that it’s safer, better, and more loveable to be small, weak, and afraid.

Yeah, I know.

So apparently that part of my brain—the unembigginated part—aligns very happily with the idea of being terrified, just shakin’ in my boots, at the thought of speaking in front of people.

Okay, ensmallebrain. Let’s sit down for a minute and talk.

I am super grateful for your kind intentions. I know you are just doing what you think is best. I know you’re only trying to help me! I know that you’ve noticed how easy it is to get people to behave in loving, comforting, downright parental ways if I’m small, weak, and afraid. I can totally appreciate that and I even understand it. But you need to know—just for the purposes of being informed—that I don’t need to be ensmallenated in order to have people love me. I know, I know, I totally know: I used to be under that impression, and I gave you that crazy idea in the first place so of course it’s NO WONDER! that you have made the decisions you have over the last twenty-seven and a half years. But I have more clarity now, and I know a lot better what makes people love me. And it would make me really happy—insanely, marvelously happy—if from now on you could base your decisions on this new information. That people love me just because I’m me, and I’m strong, and brilliant, and unique, and clever. I would like that super much.

No, no—DUDE! We are totally cool. It’s just that one thing.

Yes. Thank you for being SO understanding!

(See? No freakin’ problem!)

The Tribes Casebook (courtesy of Triiibes)

The Tribes Casebook PDF

I am incredibly pleased to announce that the Tribes Casebook will be released today on Seth Godin’s blog (and hundreds, if not thousands, of others). I submitted two pieces and both were selected; the first was an original case study I wrote on diversity, a subject that resonates hugely for me. The second was a collaboration with Rick Wilson, who is abidingly sharp, an awesome friend and seriously fun to work with. I feel a great deal of gratitude to have been involved in this project.

The low-down: Email it, post it, print it! Please don’t sell it or change it. If you’d like to take a look at it, you can download it for free here.

The Casebook is a companion ebook to Seth’s release of his book, Tribes, this month. It was birthed from the collaborative genius of several thousand Triiibes members suggesting, creating, editing, and cheering on more than a hundred and fifty selected case studies (and many more brilliant riffs that didn’t make the final cut) over the last two months. Every one of us feels overwhelmingly lucky to have met and have the opportunity to encourage and inspirit one another in such a powerful space. Triiibes is likely the most intelligent, driven, creative, innovative group I’ve ever been a part of. I am constantly, consistently impressed by the quality of membership and the sheer brilliance of those involved.

For fellow Triiibers: If you’re reading this now, every single one of you is amazing. Thank you so much for being a part of my experience.

For everyone else: This group has proven to me that you—yes, YOU!—and everyone you know (I’m serious) is capable of absolutely astonishing things. You underestimate yourself. It’s time to realize how huge your potential is, how far your reach, the kind of growth you have available to you. Every freaking one of you.

So take a look at the Casebook. It has many different styles and personalities, but that’s what makes it wonderful—diversity again. It’s at points thrilling, heart-wrenching, and altogether intensely inspiring. These are good people who deserve support and praise for all their hard work. Enjoy their stories, visit their links, and give them mad props.

For my part, I’m looking forward to linking to their launch posts, too! ;}

More information on the Tribes Casebook!

Pace Smith of Usual Error Project fame is also a member of the Triiibe, with a case study in the Casebook! It’s fantastic, you should read it. :}

Squidoo: The Tribes Casebook (by Triiibes). I started to list all the Tribes Casebook links I could find right here, and then I realized that Squidoo has a perfect function for just this purpose! If you’re a Triiibes member, please visit this page to add your link and vote. And whether you’re a Triiibes member or not, please take a look at the link list, visit them and say hi!

My favorite Tribes Casebook posts and link fu so far:

Pace Smith’s “I co-authored an e-book with Seth Godin’s Triiibe!” @ Pace & Kyeli
Seth Godin’s “Free Tribes ebook” @ Seth’s Blog
Jodi Kaplan’s “Tribes!” @ Fix Your Broken Marketing
Joe Noonan’s “Seth Godin’s free online book” @ Everyday Ecstasy
Barry Adams’ “The Tribes Casebook” @ Adamus.nl
“Seth Godin’s free ‘Tribes Casebook’ — including Trish Lambert!” @ SWIMBERT

There’s also a crazy Twitterstream developing about the Casebook, and two more if you watch “Triiibe” and “Triiibes” on Twitter Search. Huge amount of fun!

Sun Food

I just read the most incredible article by Michael Pollan over at the New York Times. It’s thick with information and politic tie-ins, but once you get towards the end you start to realize what’s going on—to see that he’s constructing a world of real food and healthy citizens and nourished children.

The Food Issue – An Open Letter to the Next Farmer in Chief

He moves from industrial food policies to smaller agriculture and then, of course, to private, family-sized gardening (a concept any Story of B fans, like me, can strongly relate to). I didn’t realize he was going to cover such a gamut of topics with one fell swoop, but in nine pages he takes you to an amazing place, talking about the “culinary equivalent to home schooling”. It all fits together, like clockwork, a finely-crafted machine.

I’m all done reading but I’m sitting here daydreaming about fresh produce and responsible citizens and new education and growth and a whole planet busting with health and I don’t think I can stop. This world he’s laid out so clearly, for presidential purposes, is absolutely astonishing. I mean, compare it to the one we’re living in now.

Parents and Growing

I was walking down the stairs at my parents’ house in Youngstown when I realized something monumental—something that perhaps I never realized before:

There’s no need for me to base my standard of success on my parents.

There’s no need for me to use their criteria to judge whether I’ve done well. It’s only my standards that matter.

The only person who counts, in judging my success, is me.

My parents have always been incredibly insightful and supportive, but (like any other kid on the planet) I’ve often felt like they kind of… don’t get it. Even now, at 27 (and maybe more than ever), they sometimes respond in perplexing ways. They’re just different people. More and more, I seem to want them to understand what I’m doing, why it’s wonderful.

But… I guess they don’t need to.

My parents are a little like the soil I grew in. The soil doesn’t have to be like the fruit. The soil serves a different purpose. If my parents were the fruit, I couldn’t have grown in them in the first place!

So it’s incredibly good that they are who and what they are. They have given me amazing things to learn from and work with, even if I get frustrated when they’re not just like me.

It’s the lot of every child in the universe, to be different.

Our parents don’t have to be like us.

It’s enough that they grew us, and that we are awesome.

Okay. I get it.