Photographer Thom Hogan shares his insights on setting goals and meeting them. Something that is often overlooked is the accountability part of goal setting:

Be communicated. Not communicating a goal to at least one other person is like making a prediction on the future but not telling anyone. It doesn’t count when your prediction comes true, because no one knew you predicted it. Likewise, goals tend to be the same. The coward’s way out is to not communicate your goals to anyone else. This gives you wiggle room to save face if you don’t meet them. But you’re making a classic mistake if you do this: you’re making the assumption that notmeeting a goal is somehow a badge of shame. No, it just means you didn’t meet the goal. Either you keep trying to meet that goal, or you set a slightly less ambitious goal next time. The fate of the world doesn’t rest on whether you meet your photographic goal, so there’s no shame in not meeting it. Indeed, there’s a lot to be learned by not meeting it. You may have thought you could progress faster than you can, now you have a better sense of the rate at which you can. You may have underestimated the task, next time you won’t.

When goals are shared, it creates a support that otherwise wouldn’t exist. We are created to help one another and communicating our desires is a major component of this.  Not only will it lead to accountability, but it will also provide resources that otherwise wouldn’t have been offered. When you say you want to run a marathon and share that will your friends and family, you just might find two other people are doing the same thing. Through that communicating, you now have a three person training team, such a better way to go about the process

That’s the way things are meant to be. It isn’t an individual walk through life, but a group effort. Share your goals. Share your purpose. Not only will it provide accountability, but it will provide you with resources that you wouldn’t have had otherwise. That is God’s intention for us as relational creatures – we’re not meant to keep these aspirations to ourselves. We are meant to live and work in community with others.

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Thoughtful article by Frank Chimero on writing a book:

Writing a book has been like running a marathon: the goal is to finish because it’s a thrill to go further than you ever have gone before. You keep your pace, and hope that each day you can do the same amount of work with just a little bit less pain. But the pain never leaves, because you are digging yourself up and hallowing yourself out onto the page. You just choose to ignore it. You run, and you say “The body serves the mind. The body serves the mind.” Inhale through the nostrils, exhale out the mouth. Push. We will make our words well. “We will be better. We will be good.”

And on taking the time to fully digest quality writing:

A few years ago when traveling I had a meal at a tapas bar on a slow Tuesday night, and struck up a conversation with the chef in the open kitchen. She told me that the key to a good meal is matching the chef’s time: take as much time to eat the dish as it took to prepare it. I always filed it away in my head, but never quite knew how to classify the sentiment. It’s just within the past few days that I’ve understood that the reason I liked the thought so much was because of how kind it seemed. To match attention is to be kind.

And…

We want to match the caring of others. And yet, we reign ourselves in from fear of the jest focusing its gaze upon us if we make a real and honest go at chasing after what we believe.

Mr. Chimero has switched gears on his illustration work and decided to have a go full bore at the crafting of words. His book is eagerly anticipated.

David Kirkpatrick profiles Jack Dorsey, inventor of Twitter and Square (accept credit cards with your iPhone…amazing).  Good read if you’re interested in technology startups and how that world works. If you have no interest in that, skip the article and instead take this with you.

Kirkpatrick:

Dorsey’s is the highly considered life of a purist. His ardent asceticism has only recently been leavened with a dollop of luxury.

When he shops, he seeks the ne plus ultra in quality and durability because he expects to keep each item for life: a Filson leather-and-canvas shoulder bag; a Shaker bench; a Rolex, because its maker is one of the few watch companies, he says, that manufacture their own parts.

I’m not suggesting Rolex or Filson is the way to go, but the attitude is something to think about. Buying as if you’d own something for the rest of your life.

What if we treated all of our things as if they were made to last a lifetime? Maybe they would? Or at least a lot longer then when we treat things with the air of designed obsolescence to which they were created with. Basically, take care of your stuff, whether it’s cheap stuff or expensive. Because it’s all relative, your cheap is my expensive. What I throwaway, you might treasure for a lifetime.
via Vanity Fair

Tom Junod profiles Mr. Rodgers. Epic. For someone that grew up watching the children’s television show, Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood, on a regular basis, this article was time machine of happy memories. I highly recommend you pour yourself a cup of the black and read this. You will be a different person after.

For those without the time or want a preview, I leave you with these.

Tom Junod:

At first, the boy was made very nervous by the thought that Mister Rogers was visiting him. He was so nervous, in fact, that when Mister Rogers did visit, he got mad at himself and began hating himself and hitting himself, and his mother had to take him to another room and talk to him. Mister Rogers didn’t leave, though. He wanted something from the boy, and Mister Rogers never leaves when he wants something from somebody. He just waited patiently, and when the boy came back, Mister Rogers talked to him, and then he made his request. He said, “I would like you to do something for me. Would you do something for me?” On his computer, the boy answered yes, of course, he would do anything for Mister Rogers, so then Mister Rogers said, “I would like you to pray for me. Will you pray for me?” And now the boy didn’t know how to respond. He was thunderstruck.

The boy had always been prayed for. The boy had always been the object of prayer, and now he was being asked to pray for Mister Rogers, and although at first he didn’t know if he could do it, he said he would, he said he’d try, and ever since then he keeps Mister Rogers in his prayers and doesn’t talk about wanting to die anymore, because he figures Mister Rogers is close to God, and if Mister Rogers likes him, that must mean God likes him, too.

His acceptance speech upon winning his third Emmy award:

 “All of us have special ones who have loved us into being. Would you just take, along with me, ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are … Ten seconds of silence.” And then he lifted his wrist, and looked at the audience, and looked at his watch, and said softly, “I’ll watch the time,” and there was, at first, a small whoop from the crowd, a giddy, strangled hiccup of laughter, as people realized that he wasn’t kidding, that Mister Rogers was not some convenient eunuch but rather a man, an authority figure who actually expected them to do what he asked … and so they did. One second, two seconds, three seconds … and now the jaws clenched, and the bosoms heaved, and the mascara ran, and the tears fell upon the beglittered gathering like rain leaking down a crystal chandelier, and Mister Rogers finally looked up from his watch and said, “May God be with you” to all his vanquished children.

Speaking directly to the author of the article:

This man, Fred Rogers, didn’t want to go to heaven; he wanted to live in heaven, here, now, in this world, and so one day, when he was talking about all the people he had loved in this life, he looked at me and said, “The connections we make in the course of a life—maybe that’s what heaven is, Tom. We make so many connections here on earth. Look at us—I’ve just met you, but I’m investing in who you are and who you will be, and I can’t help it.”

On continual prayer and thanksgiving:

Fred never stopped looking at her or let go of her hand. “It’s not a performance. It’s just a meeting of friends,” he said. He moved his hand from her wrist to her palm and extended his other hand to me. I took it and then put my hand around her free hand. His hand was warm, hers was cool, and we bowed our heads, and closed our eyes, and I heard Deb’s voice calling out for the grace of God. What is grace? I’m not certain; all I know is that my heart felt like a spike, and then, in that room, it opened and felt like an umbrella. I had never prayed like that before, ever. I had always been a great prayer, a powerful one, but only fitfully, only out of guilt, only when fear and desperation drove me to it … and it hit me, right then, with my eyes closed, that this was the moment Fred Rogers—Mister Rogers—had been leading me to from the moment he answered the door of his apartment in his bathrobe and asked me about Old Rabbit. Once upon a time, you see, I lost something, and prayed to get it back, but when I lost it the second time, I didn’t, and now this was it, the missing word, the unuttered promise, the prayer I’d been waiting to say a very long time.

“Thank you, God,” Mister Rogers said.

via Pittsburgh in Words

Radio humorist Garrison Keillor had a stroke and writes about it. Crying and laughing will ensue, prepare yourself.

Keillor:

The only reason I’d want to know my departure date is so I can plan that Last Year. I’d take up smoking again (Camels, unfiltered) and resume my love of martinis and Armagnac and Barolo and the Sazerac. The elegant ceremony of cigarette lighting, the intake and the thrill in the lungs, the eloquence of exhalation, the crushing of the ice, the shaking of the shaker.

I’d have to move to Hawaii and live in a house open to the sea breeze so the smoke and fumes wouldn’t upset my wife. There we’d while away the hours as I descended into nightfall. We’d feast on roast pork and steaks as big as dictionaries and baked potatoes stuffed with butter and I’d get fat and float in the pool and await my demise.

Lucky Strikes, martinis, pork butt, potatoes. The end is in sight. Go for it. No need for a clear head as Death circles the house. Meet the old guy bravely, head up, music turned up loud, windows open, and a coffin nail in your hand.

It’s important to think about the things we’d do if we were given a specific departure date. How would that look? What things in our life today could we change if we had this knowledge. I’m not suggesting martinis and Lucky Strikes, but know that the end is always in sight, just sometimes not our sight.  Go for it, whatever it may be.

via Men’s Health

I hope you have already seen this. If not, then I’m honored, humbled and saddened to be the one to show you. American author, David Foster Wallace gave a commencement speech in 2005 at Kenyon College.

Wallace:

And I submit that this is what the real, no-bull- value of your liberal-arts education is supposed to be about: How to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default-setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone, day in and day out.

And…

Look, the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default-settings. They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing. And the world will not discourage you from operating on your default-settings, because the world of men and money and power hums along quite nicely on the fuel of fear and contempt and frustration and craving and the worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default-setting, the “rat race” — the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.

DFW would go on to commit suicide in the fall of 2008. Did he stop listening to his own advice?  Or was he listening to his advice and it was flawed? I would say he stopped listening, because “being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day” is exactly how we are meant to live.

Now that the minimalism rage is dying down, let’s go full circle and review an iconoclast in the movement. It might provide some insight into what minimalism is really all about instead of the duplicate world of 100 possessions and Veganism – both nice ideas but not minimalist on their own.

 Meire:

Those who judge minimalism by its appearance alone will call it spartan, austere, even soulless. But art and design are not just about appearances. Ornamentation is not art. Great art is about heightening our experiences. To me, the minimalist aesthetic is the most humanist of all, one that elicits the full power of all our senses. What Le Corbusier called “the spirit of order, a unity of intention” is what allows us to see beauty and to take part in the journeys of our own hearts and minds.

via Esquire