Had a wonderful conversation with Somewhere in the Middle host Michele Burard that was posted Friday night.
Michele’s podcast features conversations with wellness experts, coaches, entrepreneurs, politicians and writers. Her goal is to create a:
safe place where we can learn and grow together. We discuss a variety of topics, ranging from love to politics to money and business and beyond, because the human experience is wide and varied.”
We spent an hour talking about creative entrepreneurship, spirituality, family history and working hard to profile real people in a way that helps us understand the present.
Michele was born in the deep south so we talked a lot about colonization, democracy and the differences between living in a hot climate and surviving in what Michèle calls the “frozen north.”
Hope you enjoy our conversation.
Have you ever created something that you didn’t even think was possible?
You imagined it and then it happened.
For me, my whole life is a little bit like that.
When I first moved to Montreal to become a writer, I had no idea how exactly you create a creative career.
And now it’s 25 years later. I’m married I have two children, but more than anything else I’m a writer.
If you had told me when I was a little girl that I’d actually be writing books and writing and being a journalist and doing all the things that I do to make a living, I wouldn’t have believed you.
It was like a dream that lots of us had.
There are entire worlds that get created out of imagination.
It’s not just my life but the entire world around us.
We have Elon Musk actually sending off rockets into space.
We have the device that I’m filming this on is a tiny little thing like which is even smaller than the shoe.
It gets even more amazing.
\When he was a kid, Barack Obama couldn’t imagine being president, nor could Jimmy Carter.
If anyone would have told him when he was a kid that that would have been possible, he wouldn’t have believed it.
Justin Trudeau was a teacher in British Columbia. At that time, I’m sure he didn’t think he would ever be Prime Minister of Canada. It’s so amazing what you can do.
Just look at what J.K. Rowling has done with the Harry Potter series. All of us, all of a sudden, can imagine flying broomsticks and playing quidditch.
We can actually imagine two different worlds where some people are magical and the rest of us are just muggles.
And she created that all of her imagination.
That’s what I really want to talk about today.
I want to encourage you to create out of your imagination the life that you want.
Obviously you can imagine it. And what you imagine isn’t necessarily what’s going to take place, but at least you can create something is different than it would be if you didn’t try imagining something great.
There’s all sorts of books that that make this really clear.
Have you read the Blue Ocean Strategy? This is just an idea and somebody created an entire new way of thinking about business with this just one single idea. Do what’s unexpected.
There’s another book by Norman Doidge called The Brain That Heals Itself. This is something that people never imagined was true. And he discovered it is true.
Look at black holes.
Look at Steven Pinker’s world. His ideas is that we live in a kinder more gentler world.
Then the person who imagined something went out in the world and went to see if they could find evidence for their idea.
And they did.
And then the idea got stronger and then we all imagined it.
The United Nations has just announced that they want the Zero Hunger by 2030 they’ve created a campaign.
They are there.
They want saner agriculture practices. This is something that I think all of us can imagine would be nice. What if everyone woke up with enough food to eat and that it was so nutritious that they didn’t get sick. This is an extraordinary moment of imagination that I hope we can all get behind.
What else can you imagine?
What moments can you think up would be something that we can all get behind.
Each person imagines something they share their ideas with others and then you create a joint vision which is just a joint imagination.
There is Dan Sullivan and Peter Diamandis from Exponential Wisdom who talk a lot about extending human lifespan. Peter Diamandis wants to live for seven hundred years. Dan’s a little bit less optimistic; he’s only aiming to live for 156 years.
These are imaginary moments but they’re working on actually making this happen.
Peter Diamandis has created an organization where you can go down and get your genetic background to see if you are going to get sick. Basically it’s like a health organization to work on where you are at now so you can treat anything that might be found before it actually gets worse.
Obviously if you find and treat an illness really you have a better chance of survival.
So I mean this is just the way you look at basic medical treatment. The past looks barbaric now because people imagined better.
Antibiotics didn’t exist. A simple piece of mould had no value until somebody imagined more. Then they did the work.
All good ideas start with imagination and then they take work to accomplish. And that’s the hard part. But you have to begin by actually imagining something that’s amazing.
I think that the world of nonfiction is built on proving that what we imagine is true.
I’d love to hear how your using your imagination to create a better life for yourself and just let me know in the comments.
Today I posted my first Loom how-to video on YouTube. This one shows how I use GIMP to crop and scale photographs.Watch the video here
Hope you find it useful.
By the way, all three of these software programs allow limited use for free! Thank you to everyone who helped produce them and continues to upgrade them so they work so well. Thanks to you, creators like me get to produce and publish our work while learning new skills. We live in such an awesome world.
There are three senses of confidence, and all three of them define feelings about something.
This essay deals mostly with the last sense of the word. I want to talk about confidence because it’s an important business skill. Actually, it’s a necessary life skill too.
Also, studies show that women tend to have less confidence than men. One of the most impressive of these was conducted by University of California researcher Dr. Wiebke Bleidorn and six co-researchers. After interviewing 985,937 people from 48 different countries over a period of eight years, they showed that men express higher self-esteem than women and both men and women become more self-assured as they age. The results appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2015.
The eight-year study by Bleidorn her co-researchers analyzed data from over 985,000 men and women across 48 countries, from Norway to New Zealand, Kuwait to South Korea, asking them to rate the phrase: “I see myself as someone who has high self-esteem study found that across the board – regardless of culture or country, men have higher self-esteem than women.”
So: where does confidence come from; what influences it; and how can people become more confident?
Thanks to human behavioural tendencies towards imposters’ syndrome, self-doubt and procrastination, confidence is something that has to be continually regenerated.
All of these tendencies stem from a natural human behaviour of narrow framing.
Nobel-prize winner Daniel Kahneman says narrow framing is natural since people face problems one at a time, under circumstances in which the immediate consequences of the choice is so clear that other possibilities might be hidden. That means we make decisions from a more narrow perspective than might be rational. An impending deadline only feels urgent when it is only a week or even a day away. Then we realize that we can’t succeed as we hope to, and our confidence wanes.
The opinion of others can influence confidence, but so can other factors.
In 2018, a group of European scientists reported in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology how stress affects our degree of confidence. Here are their conclusions:
Taking action, changing your body posture and setting and accomplishing goals all lead to confidence.
Frances Bridges summarizes ten ways to generate confidence in an article for Forbes:
Peter Economy focusses more on mindset hacks in his Inc story:
Economy also says: “You might have to fake it at first and merely appear to be self-confident, but eventually you will begin to feel the foundation of self-confidence grow within you.”
My own way of generating self-confidence can be summed up by five elements:
It’s awesome to be able to celebrate Freedom to Read Week, which begins today.See this in video here
Do we still need this kind of celebration? Isn’t censorship dead in Canada?
Not all. Did you know that politician Victor Doerksen and 810 others tried to get John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” banned from all Alberta schools in 1994?
Of Mice and Men sits among 30 works that have been challenged in Canada over the last 35 year of this event. You can read the entire list on the Books and Periodical Council Freedom to Read Week website.
Reading about such things surprises me, but it shouldn’t. People are always trying to impose their taste on others.
Canadian creators, librarians and schools set up Freedom to Read Week events to celebrate and encourage the right to freedom of expression. It has taken place in Canada for the last 35 years.
This year, it begins on February 24 and ends March 2.
Freedom to Read Week operates as a project by a committee set up by the Books and Periodical Council. The Council represents creator associations across Canada, including one I’m in, the Professional Writers Association of Canada.
Freedom of Expression matters a great deal to all of us.
At the same time, we do not condone hate literature, something that is illegal in Canada.
Defining Freedom of Expression can be difficult. The Books and Periodical Council uses a joint statement written in 1997 and reaffirmed in 2017 to do so. Here it is:
Freedom of expression is a fundamental right of all Canadians, and freedom to read is part of that precious heritage. Our Committee, representing member organizations and associations of the Book and Periodical Council, reaffirms its support of this vital principle and opposes all efforts to suppress writing and silence writers. Words and images in their myriad configurations are the substance of free expression.
The freedom to choose what we read does not, however, include the freedom to choose for others. We accept that courts alone have the authority to restrict reading material, a prerogative that cannot be delegated or appropriated. Prior restraint demeans individual responsibility; it is anathema to freedom and democracy.
As writers, editors, publishers, book manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and librarians, we abhor arbitrary interpretations of the law and other attempts to limit freedom of expression. We recognize court judgments; otherwise, we oppose the detention, seizure, destruction, or banning of books and periodicals – indeed, any effort to deny, repress, or sanitize. Censorship does not protect society; it smothers creativity and precludes open debate of controversial issues.
The list of challenged works that someone in Canada deemed offensive includes many works. A diversity of cultural expression works about gender identity, multiculturalism and panoply of other politically-sensitive issues appear.
The nonfiction books among them include:
Of Mice and Men fits right in.
The 811 people who signed a petition presented to the Albertan legislature in 1994 claimed that Steinbeck’s classic book “demeans or profanes the name of God and Jesus Christ.”
I can’t argue about the profanity. Consider the following quote from paragraph 62 on Saturday Night.
“I seen hunderds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads. Hunderds of them. They come, an’ they quit an’ go on; an’ every damn one of ’em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ’em ever gets it.”
Not sure how a quote from a fictional character demeans God though. Nor do I agree that that would be a reason to ban a book anyway.
Steinbeck’s work expresses an intense period in American history. It’s also extraordinarily well-written.
Think I’m going to make a point of reading it to celebrate Freedom to Read.
Or maybe I’ll just read Travels With Charlie again. That’s my favourite non-fiction work of all time. Steinbeck wrote it too.