Archive for the ‘Questions’ Category

81/365 – “What’s one thing you recently learned?”

81/365 – “What’s one thing you recently learned?”

Last week, I was surprised to learn that my threesome and foursome* skills had improved significantly since my first attempt.

Although I had not practiced between the two sessions, my ability to stay connected to multiple people simultaneously had somehow improved.

Reflecting back, the numerous exercises that taught me how to stay connected to one partner while sustaining awareness of the rest of the room was the key.

Now – I just need to figure out how to bring that skill back into everyday life – The ability to maintain focus without losing perception.

#365Questions

*In a contact improv jam.

80/365 – ” What makes you feel supported? “

80/365 – “What makes you feel supported?”

For the last few weeks, I’ve been assembling a small but powerful dream team to work on a brand-new campaign with Greenpeace.

Although the project is complex, with tight deadlines, and even tighter budgets – everyone on the team is self-motivated. If someone has the ability to solve a problem, they do it- unprompted.

Not needing to push, pressure, or motivate others is always a tremendous relief. The feeling of someone else taking responsibility until a task or problem is solved frees up so much mental space and bandwidth for more creative thinking.

For me, being supported is knowing that a project or task is progressing without committing active brain cells. What about you?

#365Questions

79/365 – ” Can you reframe that into an opportunity? “

79/365 – ” Can you reframe that into an opportunity? ”

Once in a while, our past self will overcommit our future self to projects that don’t serve us.

This can happen for many reasons. Perhaps the nature of the project changed as time went by, or our goals shifted over time, or the relationship that seemed promising ended up souring.

In a best-case scenario, we can drop the project gracefully. But sometimes, we get trapped in a situation that’s too delicate to escape.

In those instances, changing our mindset to find the opportunity within the constraint is all that we can do.

Choosing to see a negative situation as an opportunity allows us to see possibility rather than ensnared by frustration.

#365Questions

78/365 – ” What’s a superpower you have but don’t use? “

78/365 – ” What’s a superpower you have but don’t use? ”

We are all gifted with certain superpowers.

Unfortunately, our interests are only sometimes aligned with our skills.

For example, I am a reasonably good video editor – but I hate sitting in front of a computer to edit videos. If I enjoyed editing, I could quickly go from good to great – but I don’t.

Instead, I prefer to play with my hands – building and designing physical things, even though I’m (currently) not very good at it.

But there are probably other opportunities to leverage existing superpowers that are fun to do, that I happen to be good at, that make the world a better place, and that I can get paid for.

Definitely a question worth meditating on.

#365Questions

77/365 – ” What’s one fundamental skill you could work on? “

77/365 – ” What’s one fundamental skill you could work on? ”

For the last couple of days, I’ve been working through a grant application.

While writing them is still painful, the process of writing an application is nowhere near as debilitating as it was a couple of years prior.

In some ways, this is surprising since I haven’t invested much time in learning how to write grants.

However, my daily writing practice has trained me to convert thoughts more rapidly into words, which has unexpectedly paid off in other fields.

While I haven’t gotten any of the grants I’ve applied to – I can now apply to more of them quicker – which means more opportunities to practice… which means more opportunities to improve… and on and on it goes.

Improving on fundamentals yields an asymmetrical upside; A worthy investment of time that will yield benefits far beyond the obvious.

#365Questions

76/365 – ” What would happen if you pursued less productivity? “

76/365 – ” What would happen if you pursued less productivity? ”

Today, my co-founder and I went to a contact improv jam together for the first time.

Rather than end our dance session early to hold a little pre-week pow-wow, we decided to experiment by having our little meeting while dancing – asking each other: What were our most pressing deadlines? Which projects were we most excited to tackle? How did we want to start our Monday?

The meeting wasn’t particularly efficient – we often lost our train of thought and had unconventionally long pauses as we repositioned ourselves – but the brainstorming also came with more joy, laughter, and presence.

Introducing an element of play into a serious routine was wonderfully refreshing in a way that more productivity and efficiency could have never achieved.

#365Questions

75/365 – ” What does love look like to you? “

75/365 – ” What does love look like to you? ”

Today, my mom came to visit my studio for the first time.

She hung around for six hours to vacuum, wipe, and clean every surface she could get her hands on while my dad and I screwed hanging shelves into the wall.

Since I was young, my parents have shown love and care for me by showing up unprompted and doing whatever they could to improve my situation.

They don’t wait to be invited; they leap into action.

Unsurprisingly, I’ve grown to value friends and partners that show up selflessly over anything else.

Because, to me, that’s what love and care look like.

#365Questions.

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74/365 – ” What do the pauses in your life look like? “

74/365 – ” What do the pauses in your life look like? ”

In visual art and music, the pause between the notes or the negative space within an image is vital to the piece’s composition.

More notes do not necessarily lead to a better piece, in the same way, that adding more color to a painting doesn’t necessarily improve the image.

Similarly, increasing productivity only sometimes leads to better outcomes.

When designing our lifestyle, remember to consider the pauses. They’re just as important.

#365Questions

73/365 – ” How many “Yes’s” do you actually need? “

73/365 – ” How many “Yes’s” do you actually need? ”

To prepare for my next big campaign, I needed to find large volumes of electronic waste.

I emailed 14 different entities, with only two responses.

Of those two, one was a very curt “no,” while the final one, @unirecycle, – was an enthusiastic ” Yes!! ”

From the onset, the goal was not to get 14 positive responses – but to get just one. The right one.

If all 14 had responded positively, I would have had to go through the trouble of vetting and rejecting the other 13.

One yes, was all I needed – even though 14 would have made me feel better.

#365Questions

72/365 – ” What kind of optimist are you? “

72/365 – ” What kind of optimist are you? ”

We’ve all had friends who are Time Optimists – the ones that show up late to events, that consistently underestimate how much time it takes to do something, or who obliviously make plans that can never work because there are simply not enough hours in the day.

Frustrating as it may be to deal with them – once you understand the pattern, it’s relatively easy to adapt.

Much harder to gauge are interactions with the Energy Optimists – those that get swept up in the excitement of the present and over-commit their future selves to too many activities.

The problem isn’t that they don’t show up. On the contrary, they always show up – but it comes at a cost to their long-term happiness because they feel overcommitted all the time.

In general, optimism is useful – but only if it helps us to become the best version of ourselves.

#365Questions

71/365 – ” Are you emotionally intelligent, emotionally aware, or neither? “

71/365 – ” Are you emotionally intelligent, emotionally aware, or neither? ”

Regarding emotional intelligence, I rank my performance from mediocre to low.

I regularly miss social cues, am often kind when I should be nice, and push too hard in situations where I should probably back off.

The less present I am, the worst my performance.

Fortunately, I have relatively good emotional awareness; I can see triggers and behavioral patterns, and I am happy to work together to find strategies to prevent the same story from happening again.

As long as there is a shared desire to work things through – progress is always possible.

But those who lack both emotional intelligence and awareness may find themselves trapped in loops—negative patterns repeating themselves repeatedly with different people.

Recognizing our emotional attunement is key to improving our relationships.

#365Questions

70/365 – ” When’s the last time you zoomed out of your life? “

70/365 – ” When’s the last time you zoomed out of your life? ”

Today, I caught up with my old roommate.

It had been almost four months since we had spoken.

After I briefly updated her on what was new in my life – she was ecstatic.

From her point of view, I had progressed by leaps and bounds. Ideas I had spoken about conceptually had transformed into reality. Hypotheses I had made were either proven or disproven. Experiences I was excited to have that were on the horizon had all gone off without a hitch.

But from my point of view, life had just gone on at its regularly scheduled pace: One slow step at a time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 30-ish days a month.

Being reminded of the chapters helps us get our heads out of the sentences and words.

#365Questions

69/365 – ” What do you invest your time doing? “

69/365 – ” What do you invest your time doing? ”

For the last three days, I’ve invested hours with my dad to build a basic-ass workbench in my new studio.

We scavenged used tabletops from Facebook marketplace that we had to drive, pick up, and unload. We then had to measure, design, cut, and reassemble the whole thing in my studio – And before I knew it, the entire weekend was gone.

Nothing about the workbench is exciting or memorable, except that the wood we used for the legs came from a bulk scrap sale my dad purchased 30 years ago for $25.

The time and effort cost of making something mundane is equal to building something fun and creative. We have the same number of free hours, regardless of how we choose to spend them.

Whether we invest those hours in something exciting or mundane is entirely up to us.

#365Questions

68/365 – ” What rules do you choose to follow? “

68/365 – ” What rules do you choose to follow? ”

A game is generally fun only when you know the rules.

If someone kept changing the win condition and rules, you’d probably quit the game, frustrated, especially when the changes consistently don’t favor you.

But what if you weren’t allowed to leave that game? What if all you could do was change strategies and hope for the best? How would you even tell if you were winning or losing?

Life feels a little bit like that sometimes. A game we’re all playing without knowing why, what the rules are, or where we’re heading.

The only thing that makes sense is for us to create our own rules. Ones that give us joy, meaning, and positive experiences to share with others.

#365Questions

67/365 – ” What makes you uncomfortable, and why? “

67/365 – ” What makes you uncomfortable, and why? ”

Physical pain is easy to identify.

We know where it’s coming from, we can often see what’s causing it, and as a result, it’s easy for us to relieve that pain.

Comfort, on the other hand, is a lot vaguer.

If you find yourself in a supremely comfortable situation, it’s hard to identify exactly what part of you feels most comfortable and why.

While we often avoid discomfort, it’s a far better teacher than comfort. Whenever it appears, take the time to feel it, acknowledge it, and question it!

#365Questions

66/365 – ” Who do you serve? “

66/365 – ” Who do you serve? ”

As we gear up to build the Activism Studio, our brand new non-profit, a recurring question we’ve been struggling to answer is, ” Who do you serve? ”

It’s a question that I’ve struggled to answer throughout my career since the art I create doesn’t seek to serve a specific demographic, community, or company.

If anything, my art is powerful precisely because it is broad and aspires to support all people and the planet – supporting individual environmentalists, progressive government policies, and mission-aligned corporations equally.

But a conversation today with some friends from Exposure Labs, the geniuses behind Chasing Ice, Chasing Coral, and the Social Dilemma, finally shed some light on the perfect word to describe who I serve.

I serve Movements. The movement against rampant consumerism. The movement against single-use plastics. The movement for artists to become better activists.

Funny how the right word can give us so much clarity.

#365Questions

65/365 – ” Do you have a tragic flaw? “

65/365 – ” Do you have a tragic flaw? ”

Compound eyes on a fly are made from over 8,000 different lenses.

These eyes gives them the phenomenal ability to detect movement all around them in both polarized and UV light.

However, their eyes come with one glaring flaw: They can’t focus. To the fly, everything is always a blur – that’s why they can’t navigate around windows and occasionally fly so hard into them that they end up killing themselves.

Whether through nature or nurture, we all have similar blind spots – one or many tragic flaws that have the potential to lead us to our eventual downfall.

But if we can build awareness of these weaknesses early enough, we might just be able to buy ourselves enough time to design systems, relationships, and routines to compensate for them.

#365Questions

64/365 – ” When setting goals, do you give yourself enough margin for error? “

64/365 – ” When setting goals, do you give yourself enough margin for error? ”

While taking the train to the Newark airport, I missed my stop, resulting in an unexpected 1h30 minute detour.

Although I caught the error early – just as the doors were closing – I had no choice but to wait 30 minutes until the train stopped again so that I could get out and turn back around.

Very often, there’s a gap between realizing we’ve made a mistake and finding the opportunity to do something about it.

Depending on how error-prone we are, we might want to consider giving ourselves a larger margin for error since a larger margin increases the number of mistakes you can make and still achieve your goal.

In this case, my goal was to make my flight, and despite my small but significant error, I was able to make my flight without a problem.

#365Questions

63/365 – ” What’s the one thing that matters about this moment? “

63/365 – ” What’s the one thing that matters about this moment? ”

Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours waltzing around the MET without a tour guide.

Next to every piece of art or collection of artifacts was a tiny little postcard with 3-4 lines of text summarizing one unique or interesting factoid about the work to help give it a tiny little bit more depth.

In most cases, that one carefully curated piece of information was able to make the display more relatable, more interesting, or more relevant.

Like the description section on an Instagram photo, a few strategically placed words have tremendous power.

It made me wonder: If moments of our lives were captured and framed in a museum, what descriptions might we choose to add? What is the one factoid that makes a situation interesting? What is the one lesson we learned from the day? What is the punchline that gives an underwise mundane moment meaning?

#365Questions

62/366 – ” What kind of encouragement do you respond best to? “

62/366 – ” What kind of encouragement do you respond best to? ”

Yesterday, my friend and I debated which kind of encouragement was most helpful.

I came from the perspective that being kind rather than nice, asking the hard questions, and challenging any generic non-answers to help people uncover new insights about themselves was the superior strategy.

She championed the approach of being sweet and supportive, patient and understanding, and bringing the unconditional belief that whatever they wanted to accomplish was possible.

By the end of the debate, neither had convinced the other. We realized that we simply had different communication styles, and how we encouraged our friends was closer to immutable aspects of our personality rather than a choice.

Furthermore, how we preferred to communicate mattered less than what the receiver of the encouragement actually needed to hear.

The right process is never universal. It always depends on the situation and the desired outcome.

#365Questions

61/365 – ” What brings you here? “

61/365 – ” What brings you here? ”

When meeting strangers at an event, we sometimes assume that everyone is attending it for the same reason: to have a good time, to meet interesting people, or to learn something new.

But beneath the obvious, I find it interesting to wonder what drives people to invest their time and energy in specific places and spaces.

Do they come from a place of abundance or one of scarcity? Are they there to look for a challenge or to solve a problem? Are they here intentionally or haphazardly?

Discovering people’s “why” allows us to quickly move from the small talk to something more substantive.

#365Questions

60/365 – ” When do you struggle to maintain your compersion? “

60/365 – ” When do you struggle to maintain your compersion? ”

For the last couple of days, I’ve been noticing moments where I struggle to maintain full compersion (see: 31/365)for friends that I love and care about.

Interestingly, the struggle seems to have nothing to do with the level of trust, intimacy, or connection I feel for my friends – but it seems to be a function of how comfortable I feel in a given situation.

The more comfortable, confident, and secure I feel in myself, the easier it is for me to feel a sense of compersion for others.

Looking back at my past, a similar pattern can be found.

Moments where I felt a sense of jealousy, envy, or resentment, are almost always linked to feelings of insecurity in myself.

Nurturing compersion for others may hold the key to nurture a sense of confidence and security in ourselves.

59/365 – ” Do you know your triggers? “

59/365 – ” Do you know your triggers? ”

I’ve never fancied myself a good teacher.

I’m not very patient or nurturing, especially when my prospective students do a terrible job of listening – and I hate it when I get asked a question that I feel has a self-evident answer.

So when my friend complimented me on my teaching skills yesterday after I taught her how to breathe fire, I was extremely surprised.

In my mind, I hadn’t done anything differently or unique when teaching her… so why did she feel differently about my teaching skills?

Upon further reflection, it wasn’t so much that I had lousy teaching skills; I just have a tendency to become a terrible teacher when I get triggered.

Understanding our triggers allows us to communicate our needs better to maintain the best version of ourselves. If we can’t avoid being triggered, maybe it’s time to avoid being in that situation.

#365Questions

58/365 – ” Who do you spend your time pleasing? “

58/365 – ” Who do you spend your time pleasing? ”

For the last week, we’ve been going on scavenging runs to secure second-hand items to fill our @ActivismStudio.

In one of these runs, we saw dozens of awkwardly shaped chairs that took up a lot of space. The chairs were scuffed, dirty, and aged – and I found it unsurprising that the owner was trying to get rid of them for free.

While I didn’t see any value in these chairs, my co-founder immediately said: ” We’ll take all of them.”

Confused, I pulled her aside and challenged her decision, to which she whispered: ” These are designer chairs! I can easily sell them for $100 each! ”

While I believe that most of the world would agree with my assessment that these chairs were completely worthless and impractical, my co-founder was able to find just enough people who shared her belief to get us some much-needed cash flow into our fledgling non-profit.

What the majority believes doesn’t always matter. Sometimes it’s simply about finding the right audience.

#365Questions

57/365 – ” When’s the last time you actively did nothing? “

57/365 – ” When’s the last time you actively did nothing? ”

Yesterday, the chiropractor stuck me inside a spinal decompression machine.

For 20 minutes, the machine slowly stretches your head back while holding your shoulders in place to relieve pressure on the spine.

As I lay there, I found it ironic that I had to pro-actively work to relax, almost as if my default state was to be tense, stressed, and wound up.

In everyday life, we have so much practice doing things – that we rarely have time to practice just being.

But it’s an essential skill to develop because it’s impossible to stretch unless you first learn how to relax.

#365Questions