August always makes me contemplative. It is a time of both endings and beginnings, preparing for a new school year while squeezing the last bits of unbounded liberty from the warm days.
This year I feel more contemplative than most. Political and idealogical strife seem completely out of control, while, at the same time, my children seem optimistic and hopeful of the future.
I find my contemplative mood is most positively impacted by time spent surrounded by the beauty of nature. It changes with a kind of grace that I desire to emulate. The approaching season is embraced without while the ending season ia clu g to with just the right amount of tenacity.
Surrounded by such beauty, my own contemplative mood remains hopeful and keeps from becoming melancholy.
As our final post for June, let me offer a final suggestion for tackling the new and scary. Sample!
The concept of sampling is one that we relate to woth food. We try little bits of something, often many somethings, to discover new tastes and new fare. It isn’t a commitment to anything, and the opportunity to change and try other things still exist, but opportunities for trying things isn’t missed.
Sampling can apply to so many aspects of trying new and potentially scary things. Culture, language and of course food can all be sampled. And if you find something too scary, it’s only a sample. Try something else.
When was the last time you went someplace totally new? It could have been across town or across the country or even across an ocean, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that it was new, different, and out of the ordinary for you.
Remember, we have been talking about doing something scary this month, and visiting someplace new can certainly be scary. Even if language and customs are similar and shared, norms and expectations may be just different enough to cause you to question your comfort zone.
And in doing so, the man of style and substance learns, grows, and gains an opportunity to add to his style and demonstrate the substance of his character.
So, go someplace new.
In continuing with the theme of accepting challenges, I offer this one: start a conversation with a stranger.
We often avoid conversations beyond small talk in general, which is a shame. Conversation with new people often results in new insights, new understanding and, occasionally, a new friend.
I did this earlier today. At a meeting I sat down next to a total stranger. During the break, I started by asking her name. It was really that easy.
And then I listened. This is perhaps the scariest part of conversation, because after the first question is asked, it is completely out of our control.
And that’s why this challenge is so critical.
The man of substance does not wait for the right moment to begin something, he starts where he is and when he is! Things may not be perfect to act, but he can prepare. He may not be aware of everything that needs to be prepared, but he can gather information and plan. It may take time, but he will not miss the opportunity to do something worthwhile over time because he cannot do it all right now.
I threw out a challenge to my children today. I challenged them to bring their change home and gather it together for the next 18 months in preparation for some fine dining experiences on our next trip to Disneyland. It will take time, and we are starting small, but a man of substance understands that small actions repeated over time are what build a legacy.
Start small, if you must, but start now!
Over the past few weeks I have been getting hints from the universe, little messages that seem to be pointing me I the direction of accepting challenging, sometimes even scary things. Whether it has been a project so critical that I am afraid of messing it up or of allowing one of my children to make mistakes so they can learn their own critical lessons, these scary things sometimes paralyze me.
Not surprising, really. A man of substance wants to always be doing things effectively, so confronting situations where the outcome is doubtful and sometimes completely outside of control can be unnerving. But a man of substance also knows that the frightening things, the challenging things, those are the things that toughen and harden us for the ever increasing challenges of life. And doing it with style can only happen if we are willing to do it poorly first.
The next few posts will be devoted to challenging scary things. Hopefully you will enjoy this experiment; personally, it is a little scary to me. And that is why I am doing it.
Style doesn’t just mean fashionable or couture. Style is about the way life is approached. While it can be avant garde, it can also be classic. Fashion forward or subtle, trendy or timeless, style.os as much about the way that a man lives as about the way that he dresses.
One thing that a man of style and substance would be wise to consider is how clothing choices reinforce a personal brand. This doesn’t mean that every choice has to be in line with every previous choice ever made, but it does mean that purchasing an entire wardrobe each and every season may send unintentional messages.