Bugs in your ear

Be careful when you let people influence your decisions

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Thinking Loud

It has been a long year for me. I’ve had to make some hard decisions and also come to terms with some pretty critical realities.

I’m not sure I’d be in the mental state I am if it weren’t for everyone that has been in my circle supporting me and fighting alongside me. To my family and friends: I owe so much of myself to how you’ve empowered and enabled me to be me.

But, sometimes things just don’t feel right. Sometimes, you’re afraid. Or even there might be all too much happening at once (which let’s be honest, all of these feelings can be normal, and par for the course for this year). And when the overwhelm strikes, you’re tempted to solicit advice.

Or maybe advice is arriving unsolicited.

Advice can sometimes be like a sword without a hilt. By blindly grabbing onto it, you’re accepting the risk that you might cut yourself in the process.

There is a lot I can say on receiving advice (because I feel like I am professional at it by now) but I want to just leave you with a few thoughts:

  • Be careful not to put any single person’s opinion in too high of regard

  • Consider that someone offering advice is missing the nuance of your problem

  • Consider the context in which someone is giving you advice (illustratively, my Dad has an entirely different perspective on life)

  • When soliciting advice, be specific with your ask. Otherwise, you get everything

Also: there’s two sides of this. I’ve largely spoken about having a bug in your ear, but have you ever considered you could be doing the same to others?

Giving advice is fun, but it’s a power worth being careful with.

All of our friends and family at some point will waver at some point. I’m convinced that even the greatest will hit adversity from time to time. That’s OK.

What’s not okay is prescribing advice based on personal experience. And you want to. You want to help so bad. People (myself included) so desperately want to be told how to fix things, and man, do we want to fill that void.

But that’s no good. People will take you seriously - and face it, you don’t know their entire situation. Generally speaking, they don’t even understand their own situation. So how do you be a friend without over-prescribing (or heavily influencing) their ultimate decision?

Easy. Let them figure it out on their own. Be a friend and listen. Ask a lot of questions and truly dissect their line of thinking. While they might need advice, all anyone really ever wants is to be a friend and someone to listen.

The root of the story here? Consider who is putting bugs in your ear and be careful that you aren’t doing the exact same thing. Draw the bath but don’t take it for them.

Over the weekend

This weekend, I took it easy on myself. I’ve been entertaining for what feels like weeks. The opportunity to spend this time with my friends and family has afforded me so much happiness after being locked down for so long.

But it also distracted me from solitude. I think I forgot what it was like to not have any weekend obligations and frankly, it was amazing. I completely reorganized my apartment, deep cleaned it, and spent some time at a couple local parks.

Snapped this picture while I was sitting, thinking about that.

Giving Things Away

I’ve been working on a project that I was considering selling once it was finished. I’ve had the most success in my career by getting interviews and jobs from a strategy I have largely created (or at least refined).

When chatting with my friend Alex the other day, he inquired to why I was intending to sell it. Which was a great question: I hadn’t considered how I would possibly benefit from a few hundred dollars by withholding ideas from people. Sure, a few bucks and a new apple-watch is nice, but it is pretty inconsequential to my happiness.

And then, I serendipitously came across this reddit comment when looking for royalty free music online. The artist has given away thousands of creative common music tracks and was randomly asked why from another reddit user. Well, the artist is having an invasive brain surgery on his frontal cortex. He expanded:

Next question is why not ask money for it. Well, I may have made some tracks I could have done that for. But, the whole idea for me was to not stress, because stress gave me seizures. So instead of competing against tremendously skilled other musicians, many of whom have been classically trained and are on another level compared to me. I do not. I give my music away for free and let people choose if they use it or not. This way I do not have stress about developing something in style of X and I do not have to worry about timelines etc. I can make music, good or bad, in any genre I want, when I want. Or not.

And man, there is a lot of beauty in that. The artist does exactly what he wants to be doing, people are using (and enjoying) his music, and he alleviated stress.

Something to think about.


Building Writer’s Bloc

I’ve already written entirely too much for you all to reasonably read, but wanted to share this awesome picture from when Salman came to chat with Writer’s Bloc.

Until next time,

Cullin