momentum

by Ted Gonder

Social entrepreneur on a mission to even the odds for future generations.

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To Bend without Breaking

“When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else … you surrender your own integrity. You become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

Principles are the vertebrae that form the backbone of life. They constitute our integrity; they make actionable our values. Principles are what great men and women turn to when facing tough decisions. Principles enable us to be consistent, wise, dependable, and strong. Principles are the promises we make to ourselves for how we want to live our lives. When people talk about “walking your talk” or “practicing what you preach,” they’re talking about living out your principles.

But just as important as the discipline to stick to principles is the flexibility to bend them according to circumstances. A backbone that never moves becomes brittle. Like the spine, principles need to be exercised, bent, and

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The Glorious Albatross

“As we tenaciously work the sails, the ropes and the rudder of our sailing boat struggling against the Antarctic storm, a glorious albatross approaches our battered vessel using that same wind to totally unfold itself to magnificence.” - Rodrigo Jordan, Drake Passage, January 2008

Life is unpredictable.

One moment, you’re walking your dog, having coffee with an old friend, or drifting to sleep on a flight; the next moment, turbulence hits. A loved one calls you to tell you they have a terminal illness; a masked gunman accosts you and your friend on the street; the plane enters an electric storm, the lights flash, the oxygen masks drop, and the pilot announces engine failure.

All systems go into red alert. Suddenly, you and your precious stability are under attack. Your eyes spring open and it’s fight or flight.

In this moment, if you’re not dead yet, then you have a choice

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The New Blog

Hey there,

Thanks for visiting blog.tedgonder.com. This is my new page for sharing thoughts. I used to be over at tedgonder.com through a TypePad interface, but now am using a platform called Svtle, which serves my needs a little better, and is much prettier for you as the reader.

To kick things off, I’ve hand-picked the “best of” from my old blog and have published them as the initial crop of posts here. To “like” a post, just hover your cursor over the “kudos” button to the right.

In a few days, I’ll start posting new content.

Thanks for reading.

Ted

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Preparation versus Readiness

Delayed flights. Dead cell phone batteries. Violent relationships. Unexpected responsibilities thrust upon us. Rejection. Desperation. Confusion. Frustration.

Life throws surprises at us all the time. But no matter how many times life surprises us, we never seem to get used to it. “Expecting the unexpected” is a lot easier said than done.

I believe that you can be ready for anything, but that it’s pretty much impossible to be prepared for “anything.”

Preparation requires preliminary knowledge of events that are to occur. You prepare for something you know is going to happen. And if you’re smart, you reverse engineer your preparation based on the specific obstacles you think you’ll encounter. You can prepare for things that have certain outcomes. The problem is that this way of thinking doesn’t account for surprises.

As such, it’s extremely difficult to prepare for surprises unless

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Rancor as an Indicator of Insecurity

“Rancor is an outpouring of a feeling of inferiority.” -Ortega y Gaset

We judge others when we’re insecure about ourselves. We naturally feel hatred towards those who by their very existence challenge our sense of identity. Towards those who make us doubt ourselves and think “am I as good as that?”

But we let this happen. We let ourselves fall into the trap of comparative contexts. We let this happen because even though we hate being challenged and stripped of validation by exceptional people, we like the gratification we experience when we’re exceptional. We love feeling superior. We love power. Or maybe love isn’t the right word. We’re infatuated with these feelings of power and superiority. And infatuation is a transient and volatile emotion rooted in fear. When the expectations set by infatuation aren’t met by the reality of our experience, we get disappointed. And disappointment

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The Ease of Epic Feats

When we think of “epic feats” we’re first attracted by their shininess but then discouraged by the effort and luck we imagine their achievement requires. Even for my generation of people who grew up being told they were special, it’s more comfortable for to label epic as “impossible,” first because it makes logical sense–it wouldn’t be so epic if it were easy–and second because it dismisses us from the possibility of knowing we could be doing better for ourselves.

But epic is easier than we think. When we think of epic feats–climbing Mt. Everest, eating hundreds of hot dogs in an hour, starting a movement–the reason “impossible” is the word that comes to mind is because we concentrate all the effort over time that it would take to achieve something into the space of a vivid nanosecond of projected imagination. When we imagine what it would take to climb Mt. Everest, we think of the pain

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The Simple Logic Behind Getting More Sleep

There’s a small percentage of the population that can thrive on less than four hours of sleep per day. I’m not one of these people. You probably aren’t either. But I’ve often tried to trick myself into thinking I am. And it’s always ended poorly. Here’s the deal:

When I sleep less, my focus falters. When my focus falters, I lose self-awareness. When I lose self-awareness, I lose self-confidence. When I lose self-confidence, I feel less secure. When I feel insecure, I talk about myself more because I feel like I need to compensate or prove myself to others. When I talk about myself more, I listen to others less. When I listen to others less, my relationships suffer. So I try to get plenty of sleep.

Sound familiar?

As strange as it sounds, I think it actually takes a lot of discipline to get plenty of sleep. But like most things that require hard work, it’s worth it.

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The Hidden Benefits of Taking Notes (and the Dangers of Not)

When I decided to get my act together a few years ago, I sought out mentors and read a few books on “how to be successful.” One of the common tactics people recommended was to take notes on everything. The reasons success gurus said to take notes weren’t too different from the reasons my high school teachers said to take notes. They both said taking notes is a good idea because:

You retain more knowledge when you take notes (sort of a muscle memory argument).

You create relevant reference materials when you take notes.

You can share your notes with others to provide value (teachers said this less often than the success gurus).

So I started taking notes. The points the teachers and success gurus made about note-taking were true. Yes, taking notes had the aforementioned, obvious benefits. But the biggest benefits of note-taking weren’t so immediately obvious.

Most had to do with

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Whatever You Do, Own It

“Humanity cannot forget its dreamers; it cannot let their ideals fade and die; it knows them as the realities which it shall one day see and know. Composer, sculptor, painter, poet, prophet, sage, these are the makers of the after-world, the architects of heaven. The world is beautiful because they have lived; without them, labouring humanity would perish.” - James Allen

Not everyone is an entrepreneur. A lot of people aren’t cut out for it. That’s fine. That’s good.

But just because you don’t own a company doesn’t mean you shouldn’t own your life, your projects, your actions, your environment, your circumstances, your relationships, your calendar, your to-do list, your emotions, your demons.

So many people running away from ownership, thinking they’re winning some kind of game by evading the burdensome responsibilities of real life. Delusion.

The second that you accept

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“I’ll Be Where I Need to Be”

A few months ago, a conversation between friends went like this:

First, Cosmo asked where Sam would be [in life] a year from now. Sam replied with a few solid guesses of where she’d be, what she’d be working on, and why. Then she asked Cosmo the same question.

Cosmo’s response? “I don’t know [anything except that] I’ll be where I need to be.”

This struck me as pretty powerful. It really resonated. Not just because of the resolve with which Cosmo said it, but also because it’s almost the ultimate statement of confidence in the present, a decalaration of faith in the universe.

To have experienced, reflected, and lived enough to 100% know you’ll be where you need to be a year from now, not where someone else wants you to be, or where you think you should be. That’s powerful.

“Wherever you are, there you are.”

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