30 Day Challenge #1

30 day challenge #1

You may have noticed form the title, tha I've titled this "30 Day Challenge #1" which obviously assumes that there'll be more. I'm hoping. It's been nearly a week now. I feel like we're doing really well. After three days, we hadn't even filled our little kitchen trash can.

By the way, if you're not up on this challenge, here's the post that explains it.

So, we have no official trash weights yet, but the dumpster diving is fun.


I Almost Threw Coffee Grounds in the Trash

It's been like 3 days now since we began our month-long competition with David and Karianne. The first morning, I almost tossed used coffee grounds into the trash instead of into our newly-created compost bucket. It's not a huge deal, but it feels good to finally be putting my life, at a little bit, where my big mouth is.

The really exciting part, so far, has been the dumpster diving. We've been hitting the Goodwill dumpster every couple of days at least. So far, the finds have included everything from dvd recorders to kids' stuff. I'm really excited to get some pics to post, but we usually go get the stuff at night. I'm pretty confident that by the time we do the yard sale, we'll make at least $100.


30 Days. Speaking of Shaking Things Up...

Many moons ago, I wrote this post about bringing some focus to Emanation. I didn't have any great brainstorms myself, but my friend Tricia Sullivan suggested a series of posts documenting my progress through 30-day challenges. Many topics were suggested; 30 days as a vegetarian, 30 days without any media, etc. Great idea... hasn't gone anywhere.

Tonight, we watched The Story of Stuff with our friends David and Karianne. After several hours of processing and discussion, we decided that it would be interesting to put ourselves through some 30 days challenges together. For our first, we decided to compete, family vs. family, to see who can produce less waste. We'll do this by weighing our trash with a hay scale. Meanwhile, we will hit the local trash hotspots, after we discover them of course, and dumpster dive to recover as much usable and salable stuff as possible. At the end of the trash challenge, we'll have a yard sale with the stuff we collect from local dumpsters, and the winning family gets the cash.

All of us are admittedly quite lazy when it comes to issues of environmental consciousness. All of us also believe in the importance of stewarding this earth well. This exercise in living out our "trash talk" (clever, I know) will help us to figure out exactly how committed we are. It'll also be interesting to see how much money we can make in a month from simply scavenging what others have discarded. Stay tuned.


Business as Usual in Sandpoint, ID

I tend to get comfortable. (I don't think I'm the only one but I'll speak of myself here.) This comfort is not simply a puffy chair and a good book. It's the enemy of creativity and productivity. By settling into a well-known pattern of small risks and acceptable returns, I begin to lose passion. This happens in work, family life, hobbies, etc. However, when I'm in a period of greater perceived risk and excitement, I long for the safety and comfort of the well-known.

This happens on other levels as well. Organizations slip into these same patterns. When there are no big risks or unknowns on the horizon, organizations also get lazy and apathy begins to creep in.

Normally, these patterns of safety and comfort are ended by some unexpected tragedy or challenge. Nothing will shake up the comfort of life like a serious illness or an unexpected debt gone to collections. Events like this spur creative problem solving and disciplined thinking and behavior. Most of us can do what it takes to overcome a challenge when the challenge arises, but once it's finished, we slip back into rut we know so well.

So how does one overcome this? Are we doomed to simply slip into comfort, be jolted out by drama or tragedy, and the repeat the whole thing?

My solution for this has traditionally (at least at work) been to create some challenge of my own. By stirring up a little controversy, it helps to pull me aand the organization out of our daze. Unfortunately, there are often unintended consequences of "stirring it up" and ultimately I don't think this is the best course of action.

Now I think that staying sharp isn't about creating drama, but it's about risk. When I avoid risk in my life, I can rest lazily on the hope that whatever happened yesterday will happen again today. When I am willing to take on risk and face the possibility of success or failure right down the nose, I can't afford to be lazy. I like that.

So what is risk in life? In an organization there may be some more obvious examples, but personally it seems a bit nebulous. I would argue that it's much less nebulous than it seems. It's just that I spend so much energy subconsciously avoiding risk, that the risky endeavors I dream up are considered foolish, unwise and rash. I'm not advocating the overthrow of good sense. I'm simply saying that there has to be a way to recognize risk for what it is and still decide that the potential upside is worth more than the potential downside.

For me, risk means being more aggressive about booking dates to play music. The potential downside is huge in my mind - people might think I suck. The idea is intimidating. What if I can't fill the whole time? What if I forget the words mid-song? These are all very real fears to me, but I've found that the more I force myself to do what scares me, the less it scares me. I booked a 3-hour gig a couple months ago, then had both my partners bail on me. I was left to play acoustic guitar and sing for 3 hours straight. I was really scared. Then the night came and I started. Before I knew it, there were a handful of people who were digging the music, I got a couple requests, yada yada yada, and the 3 hours were over. It was fun, exciting, and I made a couple hundred bucks. Before that gig I seriously considered canceling, but now I'm so glad I didn't because I feel like if I can play a 3 hour solo gig, I can play anything.

So for now, I'm working on being more aggressive with my music. What are you doing? What scares you? What intimidates you? What are you afraid of? Why?

Most importantly, what are you going to do about it?