Tag Archives: ideas

Organizing Your Junk Drawer of Fears ~ Sweat The Small Stuff

In his book, An Astronaut’s Guide To Life, Chris Hadfield emphasizes the  importance of paying attention to the small things. His ideas resonated with me and these are some of my personal precepts I gleaned from his book.

Sweat the small stuff and slash your fear. Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 8.16.16 AM
I think the root of most of our fears, especially those fretful reels of “what ifs” on rewind in our heads emerge from missing information.  Most “cerebral cinematics” keeping us awake at night are spliced together with snippets of limited information that we often perceive to be unpredictable and thus out of our control. Some of this information is easily accessible and it just takes a level of intention to search it out and create systems for easy retrieval.  Minimizing some of these apprehensions requires a discipline to search out the facts in order to form and hold a broad understanding of all possibilities.  The parameters of any given problem are often much more expansive after further inquiry and thus less frightening. Hadfield suggests that,

 “fear comes from not knowing what to expect and not feeling you have any control over what’s about to happen. When you feel helpless, you’re far more afraid than you would be if you knew the facts. An astronaut who doesn’t sweat the small stuff is a dead astronaut. Part of it is ‘how do you deal with fear?”

We all have fears. They jumble together with real and perceived threats in our personal junk drawer.junkdrawer

When my junk drawer can no longer be slammed shut I reluctantly take stock of what’s knocking around together and empty out knickknacks I no longer want. There may be answers and even insights if I resolve to organize my junk drawer of fears. Maybe I can repurpose this junk drawer by taking a little more time to scrutinize their diminutive purpose in my life.

Sweat the small stuff  and cultivate competence. Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 1.55.21 PM

Competence is not dazzling – it’s discipline. Hadfield defines competence this way:

“Competence means keeping your head in a crisis, sticking with a task even when it seems hopeless, and improvising good solutions to tough problems when every second counts. It encompasses ingenuity, determination and being prepared for anything.” 

Competence requires courage. Courage to gaze beyond the clutches of our perceptions and consider our past and present choices.

Sweat the small stuff and experience wonderScreen Shot 2015-05-26 at 1.39.33 PM

“Life off Earth is in two important respects not at all unworldly: you can choose to focus on the surprises and pleasures, or the frustrations. And you can choose to appreciate the smallest scraps of experience, the everyday moments, or to value only the grandest, most stirring ones.”

I want to experience wonder every day and sometimes it will randomly happen but most of the time those “ah ha!” moments are a result of my discipline to clear the landscape of niggling irritations and fears so that I can appreciate the spectacular. I did some junk drawer cleaning today. Part of the task was writing this post and experiencing sparks of wonder in the process.

How is Twitter Like The Diamond Head Game?


The Diamond Head Game was a unique American game show that aired for 130 episodes before it was sadly cancelled in July 1975.

impalergeneral’s photostream

One of the highlights of the show was the “Money Volcano” in which contestants stood in an acrylic looking cage (more attractive than the one in this picture) while money spun around them at great velocities. The aim was to capture as many bills as possible in thirty seconds. Among the dollar amounts in the “Money Volcano” was one bill worth $10,000. I don’t remember anyone catching the elusive $10,000 bill but I always wanted to try out the “Money Volcano” for myself. I experienced something like the “Money Volcano” yesterday when I joined the Twitter session #lrnchat. As soon as I signed on to #lrnchat, hundreds of ideas, opinions, questions and links about learning and technology began to scroll down my feed page. At first it felt like I was floating in a moshpit of ideas but then I dove in and started to respond to inquiries that sparked my interest. As soon as I took time to draft an idea then thirty more tweets would scroll down the page. “Ahh…I can’t keep up!” I screamed. Is this what a distributed model for knowledge exchange feels like?

After a few minutes I started to breath again and I didn’t attempt to keep up with all the random insights. I selected what looked interesting and hastily responded. I desperately felt the need for a better interface to review ideas and make more relevant connections with the numerous “conversations”. I felt like I was just grasping at ideas hurtling by me. Maybe there is a virtual sticky noteboard that illustrates a coloured note every time a tweet appears  so that I can categorize, save, respond to and easily retrieve tweets and responses. Otherwise, the chaos of rapidly streaming ideas obstructs the potential gems of deeper inquiry. Maybe it’s my beginner’s uncertainty with the ambiguous random direction of interactions. I’ll step inside the “lrnchat Volcano” next Thursday at 5:00 PST and find out whether it’s a meaningful exchange of ideas or a just a fascinating distraction for me.