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September 10, 2013 » 9:18 pm

Practicing the Basics

It’s September 2013, nine months since my decision to leave a decade-long practice and identity to venture into the great unknown. It’s been far more of an emotional process than I had originally expected. Change is hard.

This past year, I’ve felt more compelled than usual to tell the story of my transition as it unfolds. It’s driven by my belief in the importance of working openly and leaving trails, but there’s something more driving me right now.

I’m lucky enough not to suffer from impostor syndrome. A lot of my amazing friends and colleagues do, and I go back-and-forth as to whether it drives them forward or holds them back. Personally, I’m humbled by the amazing opportunities I’ve had over the years, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far, and I have utter confidence in what I think I can achieve moving forward.

I’ve also failed more than I’ve succeeded. I’ve done my share of failing this past year. I’m wise enough to know that failure is part of the game, but I’m still struggling to deal with the emotional baggage that comes with it.

I want to share what I’ve learned from this process, and I also want others to know that this is normal, that everyone — even the most remarkable people — goes through it. The first rule of Changemaker Bootcamp is to be nice to yourself, but that can be an incredibly difficult rule to follow. Believe me, I know.

If I had to name one thing I’ve learned this past year, it is this: Being principled is easy. Living your principles is hard.

I’ve been trying to live some very basic principles, principles that I’ve advocated for years, principles that I’ve helped others try to live. It’s hard. I’d like to think that I’m better at it than average, but even if that were true, it’s not much consolation. If we were all a bit better at living our principles, the world would be a better place. In going through my own struggles, I’m also trying to create tools and structures that others can use as well. By elevating myself, I hope to elevate others.

One lesson I’m still learning is that focusing on the basics reaps the biggest rewards. In particular, I think the most important, basic practice is to be intentional, but hold it lightly. Simply starting with an intention is really hard, and I don’t know that many people who do it well. I’m placing a lot of emphasis on that for myself, and I hope that in sharing what I learn, I can help others with it as well.

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4 Responses to “Practicing the Basics”

  1. Your comment on failure brought to mind this quotation from Fay Vincent (the former commissioner of baseball): "Failure. Yes, failure is a part of my life. It’s a part of yours. You ought not shy away from it. It will come."

    Good luck with the work of principled living. I think all people who have heard the inner voice struggle with this same issue.

  2. Thanks for the quote and the sentiment, Andrew!

  3. "Being principled is easy. Living your principles is hard."

    I think this reality is behind SO MANY changemaker decisions. I'll skip the rant about the compulsion to fix other societies and other people's challenges that I suspect is a result of this fact.

  4. […] Learning is hard. It’s easy to hear things, to believe them, and to even say them to others. It’s hard to do them, to put those beliefs into action, to live those beliefs. […]

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