What's best for you

Adolphe Monet had hopes that his son, Oscar-Claude, would join in managing the family’s grocery business.

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There can be a big difference between what’s best for you, and what someone else thinks is best for you.

Sure, there are times when we’re a bit blind — when we brush aside advice that probably shouldn’t be ignored.

But mostly — particularly when it comes to our own hopes, dreams, and ambitions — we know what’s best. We know what drives us. We know there’s a unique journey that we have to navigate. One where we own the choices.

Ultimately, we know what’s best for ourselves, even if others don’t yet see it.

stephen
Squinting

When visual artists are examining a subject, or developing tone within an image, we sometimes squint. (Go ahead. You can look at something and try it right now.)

Squinting helps us to see — very generally — what’s in light, and what’s in shadow. The finer details in each area fade away as the lights and darks coalesce.

It’s an easy way for us to see the overall picture, in a tonal sense.

* * *

Useful as it is, this technique is a little trickier to use when examining other things, like our lives, our circumstances, and our situations. To allow the endless details to momentarily fade away as we assess the light and shadow... the positive and negative.

But it’s worth a try.

And… we might even find that there’s a lot more light than shadow.

stephen
Doing good work

Do you seek to do good work?

Or do you seek praise and acknowledgement for what you do?

You can hold both in your hands, but the second part is a much heavier load; carrying too much of it will eventually sink you.

stephen
Greeting

Sometimes, busy people behind counters like to pretend that customers are invisible until they’re acknowledged. That the best policy is to ignore the patron until she can be served.

For customers, however, the better experience is hearing, “Hello! We’ll be with you in just a minute.”

A simple acknowledgement of someone’s existence.

The same thing goes for when a coworker darkens your office doorway.

You may indeed be in the middle of something important. Deep into your work. Great. That’s a good thing.

But there’s a human in front of you. A human who is much more likely to appreciate a simple “please hang on a second” than to be silently ignored.

stephen
The type of person...

It can be helpful to think about yourself through the lens of, “I am the type of person who _______.”

Serve yourself. Figure out how you want that statement to end, and repeat it to yourself as much as you need to.

Then, make sure your actions agree with what you tell yourself.

stephen
What now?

The end of a year can be a time of reflection. A time of looking back to review our footsteps. To see where we’ve traveled. To see where we’ve stumbled. To see where we’ve taken brave leaps.

But it’s also a good time to ask ourselves, “What now? Where do we go from here?”

This fresh start... this arbitrary fresh start... the fresh start that we could have chosen yesterday, or the day before...

What does it mean this time?

Let’s not focus on the start of a year as though it’s magical.

Let’s focus on “now”. That precious opportunity of the present. To be our best selves. To shake off the fetters of our past. To make change happen. Not “this year,” but now. Always now… because that’s all we’ve got for sure: now.

stephen
A face at rest

While some people appear naturally content while disengaged, more often, a resting face seems stern. Austere.

The delight — the slackening of tension — comes when a friend walks into view.

The recognition creates an immediate, natural smile. A breath released. A sweet, softening of a once somber face.

Sometimes, the mere proximity of a friend can breathe new life into a dull moment.

stephen