Compassion and Clarity

October 29, 2009

Sometimes I am stunned by my internal, emotional response to feedback. I guess it’s because I have an artist’s temperament. Emotions run deep and I seem to feel them all.  When I encounter a situation where my judgement is heavy – that is, I feel that I have failed in some way and I collapse into an emotional black hole – here is what I do, in this order:

First, I remind myself that my sensitivity is a double-sided sword. Although I may feel down at the moment, it is this same sensitivity which makes me so good at what I do.

Second, I know that when I am responding emotionally, what I need is compassion. So, I ask my best friend or wife for some of their time, or take myself out someplace quiet that I enjoy for a walk.

Third, once I am feeling better, I want better results, so I go for clarity.  Now, I sit down and write out what I will do differently or if it’s not clear, I call my mentor, a business colleague, or my wife to think through my challenge.  Compassion and clarity are the dynamic duo that keep me moving.


  1. Reading Michael Perry’s new book “Coop” (that’s as in chickens, not co-owned real estate), I come across this:

    “…as I once heard someone put it, the secret to successful self-employment is to wake up scared every morning, and I usually do.”

    Now, I’ve been self-employed for most of the last 25 years, and I’ve woken up terrified often enough. But is that really any way to live? If I really believed self-employment was a sentence to daily fear, I’d find a job lickety-split.

    In Seth’s forthcoming book (I’ve been privileged to read an advance copy) you talk about worklife success and the requirement for effective self-care.

    Got any thoughts on how to balance the motivating power of “waking up scared” with earning a healthy stress-free self-directed living?

    -Sarah White

  2. This is a great question, Sarah. There is a magic zone where stress converts to magic. A little dash and it motivates, inspires, enlivens. OD on it and you lock up, freeze, close, clutch, and spiral down. Like so many things in life, it needs to be regulated.

    Managing our consciousness, our inner state, is the most valuable skill to master when it comes to WorkLifeSuccess. Pity they don’t teach it i school. Mostly it’s handed down parent-to-child or, in most cases… it’s not.

    If you’re daily excitement encroaches on the rest of your life, drives you to work when you know you should not, burns in your mind like an underlying panic – then, you need to chill out. Take a break. Find a way to contact the creative inner sanctum.

    On the other hand, if you compelled to create, generate, and make good things happen but can still take time for your own health and your closest, loved ones – then, you have achieved the zone.

  3. For a great diatribe against linking artistry and anguish, listen to Elizabeth Gilbert addressing the issue on TED.

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