Life Lessons

The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

wavesI just ingested my first episode.

That doesn’t mean that I have swallowed the flash drive I was carrying in my sweaty palm, although it feels a little that way. It means I just took the irrevocable step of uploading for broadcast the .WAV file that is my first radio show.

It’s gone, or up, or in, or some place that shows go before they are on the air.  That happens on Wednesday, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, at WERA-LP 96.7 FM. oh my!

It’s a B+ effort – good, not great; plenty of room for improvement, but credible for a first try. I could recite you all the places that could use more clean-up, that aren’t exactly as I’d like them.  But that would be true if I’d spent another 1,000,000,000 hours on it…and life is short.  I could recite all those places, but I’ve chosen to learn their lessons and move on. The perfect is the enemy of the good. Too much time on this would take the joy out of it — and what’s the point of that?!

Walking to the studio this afternoon I realized the lesson felt familiar, a little like the pottery class I took some years ago. I learned then that there comes a time with every pot when you just have to stop.  More messing with it won’t improve it; it will only collapse the whole thing in on itself. What was once a charmingly slightly off-kilter bowl will suddenly be a sullen lump of mud if over-worked.

The show began to feel like that. Improvements weren’t; tinkering risked clunkers. It was time to stop.

And — to go. Forward. On to the next show, to the new lessons, to a better version of good.

Life Lesson #41: The perfect is the enemy of the good.

I’d love to have you listen in – and to hear your thoughts!  Streaming at wera.fm, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or get episodes emailed to you from MixCloud after each broadcast.

Uncategorized

“the incredible scavenger hunt of your life”

Curiosity does one thing and that is to give. And what it gives you are clues to the incredible scavenger hunt of your life. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

I don’t know if these are clues or the treasure itself, but life gave me these in the last few days and they make me smile. Spring sure makes gratitude easy.

Uncategorized

Competence Ain’t Mastery, And That’s Just Fine

I mean my credentials no disrespect, but the fact I got my Audio Production Studio certification this week is a long way from me actually knowing my way around that equipment.

The learning curve has been steep and mostly navigated in a foreign language. I’m still trying to understand amplitude, gain and hertz in some order beyond alphabetical. I’ve got the concepts down, but it sure ain’t mastery.

But what a great place to be a newbie. A. and I spent five and half hours last Friday on location recording cool sounds. On Tuesday, he engineered me through my very first interview. Editing happens Monday when, thankfully, he’ll be back. Last night, J. and K. began my Pro Tools tutorial in earnest. I’ll get there.

I’m finding tremendous freedom in being so thoroughly on the ascendent side of that learning curve. There’s nowhere to go but up – and that feels fine.

Life Lessons

I’m Glad She Asked

I was walking on Rehoboth Beach this weekend when I saw something I had never seen before: a seal on the sand. A small crowd had gathered outside the cordoned area of beach. The scene was somehow both respectful and not, as if the yellow plastic ribbon signaled an honorific that the animal almost certainly wouldn’t want. If the animal was hurt, it felt unseemly to gawk.Seal2

A woman turned to the one person who looked like he might actually know something and said, “Poor guy. What happened?” assuming, as  I think we all were, that the seal was dead or dying or had no happy reason for lying there in the spring sun.

I’m glad she asked. Here’s what I heard:

  • Because he’s a wild animal, the seal can’t be moved unless or until he moves himself, or NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) says so.
  • A seal can spit up to 20′ so, just in case, he and we were being kept apart, for “everyone’s safety – yours and his.”
  • As of that moment, the ranger knew only that the seal had conjunctivitis in one eye.
  • A harbor seal, measuring about 40 inches, this seal was one of many that swim up and down the east coast between February and May. Seals! In the mid Atlantic! I didn’t know!
  • He doesn’t need to eat for a week, doesn’t need a drink, doesn’t need to be kept wet. He’s maybe just resting.
  • Every year 4-5 end up on the beach in Rehoboth, for a variety of reasons. Some are fine, just resting; some are not…

I hope he’s fine. I hope he’s fine, well rested, now well on his way.Seal

Life Lesson #40: Just ask.

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Eszter Schall! Or, Why I Love the Internet

I met Mr. Detective and Frog Spy in a display case, in a waiting room, in a hospital, in a cave, in Budapest. I knew I wanted them hanging from my ears forever.

One doesn’t necessarily expect to find hand-crafted earrings for sale in a hospital, or a hospital in a cave for that matter. But a TripAdvisor search for something off-beat had brought me and D. to Sziklakórház Atombunker Múzeum and there we and they were.

(You have to love a place whose directions include: The closest bus stop is at Szentháromság tér. Take bus 16, 16A or 116, also called Várbusz, from Széll Kálmán tér (formerly Moszkva tér), Deák tér or Dísz tér. It’s like finally having something to do with all the terrible Scrabble tiles you’ve ever had.)

~~~

Back home and missing Budapest, which was riveting, happily unpretentious after Vienna, and so clearly in fevered transition it made my heart ache, I reached for the comfort of Google’s images and the city I had glimpsed. The Fisherman’s Bastian, Matthias Church, the baths.

One drawing of Matthias, especially, was playful, lopsided, somehow familiar. Following the digital breadcrumbs, I found the artist and lost myself in her Etsy page.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear but Mr. Detective and Frog Spy!

I had found her: Eszter Schall! Or is it Schall Eszter? Magyar defeats me.

~~~

A week or two ago I was wrestling with how to brand a new radio show about curiosity.  Mr. Detective and that grey-hatted frog kept leaping to mind. They were close to whatever it was I thought I was seeking. Browsing her sites, I found Eszter’s other work offered still more delightful depictions of the topsy-turvy, inquisitive spirit of “Choose to be Curious”.

I wanted Eszter’s art. Bad.

So I took a deep breath and sent an email into Hungarian cyberspace.

And she responded! And she let me feature her art for a while! And because there is an internet, you and I can buy the work of a whimsical, witty, wonderfully talented artist in Hungary.

Which you should do, right now.

Life Lessons

Inspiration, Delivered Curbside

I was taking my usual walk one morning this week when something in the gutter caught my eye.  Thirty feet along, I circled back, realizing it had also captured my imagination.

Most of the residual detritus from the snowplows had finally been cleared away, but a dusting of debris still clung to the utility strip and huddled against the curb. I picked up the shiny things, wondering whence they had come and what purpose they had served.

For now, they sit on my desk reminding me inspiration is indiscriminate.

Life Lesson #39: Inspiration is indiscriminate.

UnComfort Zone

Leading with Curiosity

lead (lēd) v. – tr. 1. To show the way to by going in advance. 2. To guide or direct in a course. — intr. 1. To be first; be ahead. 2. To go first as guide. — n. 1. a. The first or foremost position. b. One occupying such a position; a leader.

I write as a recovering know it all.

Not, I hope, as an ugly, in-your-face, superior-than-thou know it all, but as someone whose former role as a senior executive with an especially long tenure in the organization was prone to make me and everyone around me believe, well, that I knew it all.

And that’s a trap, all the way around. A particularly tricky trap from which to extricate oneself, as it happens. It’s taken me quite a while to understand those golden handcuffs.

Which might explain my deepening fascination with curiosity and the fervor of my commitment to get more people to be less knowing. There’s nothing like a convert.

S. Leonard Rubinstein wrote, “Curiosity is a willing, a proud, an eager confession of ignorance.” That is to say curiosity is not something that may come easily to people who are accustomed to being the smartest one in the room or are invested in the supremacy of their expertise.

thinkerWhat does it take for a person in power to step back, shut up and really listen? What happens when curiosity is our first move?

What does leading with curiosity actually look like?

And, more to the point, how can I lead with curiosity?

I’m trying to be willing and eager; to embrace my ignorance.

Honestly, that’s not hard this month as I tackle the steep learning curve that arcs toward my newly-approved radio show  (beginning May 4; every other Wednesday at 10 a.m. Eastern time [US] on WERA-LP 96.7 FM, streaming live on wera.fm, and available after broadcast on Mixcloud). Is it a surprise that I’ve named it “Choose to be Curious”?

I’m up to my eyeballs in new FacebookTwitter and Spinitron accounts; grappling with the mechanics of audio recording. I’m chasing interviews. Struggling to clarify my own thinking enough to craft cogent scripts. Loving the challenge.

Loving being new and dumb and eager and willing.

So much to be curious about. I’m letting it lead me – and maybe that’s the secret.