November 8, 2022
This is the Too Many Trees newsletter, where I share what I’ve been writing and reading in the realm of leadership and personal development. My executive coaching practice is centered around the idea that we are more effective in moving towards our goals when we become more conscious and intentional in focusing our time and attention, and learn how our unconscious patterns are holding us back. If you know somebody that could benefit from my perspective, please forward this to them or let them know they can set up a free intro chat with me.
The US midterms election is tomorrow. Please vote if you haven’t already (I just filled out my ballot).
This election appears critical to keeping democracy functioning in the United States, and every vote counts; yes, even if you live in a “Blue” state like California (as I do), it matters to show that people believe in a country where every vote matters, and it’s not okay to just ignore electoral results (as the Republicans have done with the 2020 election) and draw up new rules to get the outcome you want. There are more non-voters than Democratic or Republican voters, so getting people to vote is extremely valuable.
While I don’t agree with everything that Biden and this Democratic Congress has done by any means, and they are still far too conservative and business-friendly in most ways, the alternative is nightmarishly bad, and we need to demonstrate that “we, the people” thoroughly reject the Republican attack on democracy. If we don’t, we risk minority rule for generations.
I’ve been appreciating the newsletter of Michael Moore, the documentary filmmaker, as he fires people up to get out the vote. I particularly like that he focuses on issues that connect with a broader spectrum of voters, telling a better story to the Midwestern folks in his home state of Michigan than the standard Democrat fear-based messaging and “GIVE US MONEY NOW!”. I particularly liked his frustration at the Paul Pelosi attack, and advocating that “Most Americans are repulsed by this era of political violence and want nothing to do with it. They need to take that repulsion to the polls and vote the Trumpsters out. And you need to try and get as many people as possible to vote.”
In other news, thanks to all who offered feedback on my book idea - I have committed to a NaNoWriMo-esque writing push in November, and am trying to commit an hour a day to generating words.
And now for the normal personal development content:
Blog: My summary of the book Lost Connections, by Johann Hari. Yet another book after Together and Radical Friendship on the theme that connection and relationship is the natural state for human beings. Hari starts from the perspective of mental health, writing that depression and anxiety are symptoms of us becoming disconnected from meaningful work and values, and from other humans. Thus, we don't need more antidepressants, we need to change how we are living.
LinkedIn: These are ideas that have helped my clients (or myself), and that I share via LinkedIn to help a wider audience.
Act as if you matter. Don’t silence yourself by feeling like you have nothing to say and never speaking up out of fear that your contributions will not be meaningful. Don’t keep yourself small by not even trying something ambitious. Set boundaries - don’t let somebody else overrule you on how you spend your time.
Don’t do more with less. Doing more with less is often code for “Work harder and longer for no benefit to you”. That is not a good deal. If you have the power, break that cycle. Do less with less, and offer to do more with more. Communicate clearly and unemotionally about the capacity available to do the work, and work with others to prioritize that work. But don't sacrifice your well-being for somebody else's profits.
Choose what you optimize. I reshared Tiffany Dufu’s post on “What comes after ambition?” and offered my own thoughts that we can choose to optimize for different aspects of life - restricting ambition to only our paid work is an unnecessarily limiting move, one that is endemic to a capitalistic culture that wants us to equate our identity with work. Maximizing your title or your compensation is not the only measure of success in life.
Practice freedom. My friend Adam Birnbaum said something I felt was profound: “Freedom isn't something you chase, it's something you practice on a day to day basis.” In other words, rather than freedom being something you achieve one day (maybe by making “enough” money or hitting the goal you’ve set), I see freedom as the integrity to choose our actions consciously and intentionally in alignment with our values.
Articles and resources I’ve found interesting:
This Twitter thread on how mixed-use neighborhoods make cities feel more alive resonates deeply with me. Part of why such neighborhoods thrive is that people can walk to their needs, which means they can actually see and interact with each other, rather than drive by on their way to somewhere else. One of the things I love about my neighborhood is that we walk to playgrounds, to restaurants, and to shops, and see our neighbors more as a result.
The Three Feet Practice, from Gregory Ellison who asked the question “How might I change the world?” when he was six years old. His aunt told him “You can’t change the world, but you can change the three feet around you”. In this video, he shares how he uses it as a prompt to connect with the people around him on a daily basis, and I find that inspirational and actionable and aligned with my commitment to connect. What one action can you take today to change your immediate environment in a positive direction? (voting counts!)
Thanks for reading! See you in a couple weeks!