Archive - October, 2012

Nine Cold Showers: The Connection Flinch

I’ve been taking cold showers for nine days in a row. No, it has nothing to do with libido. It has everything to do with flinching. I just finished Julien Smith’s book Flinch published by Project Domino. It had been sitting in my book stack for nearly a year. I could not have read it at a better time though.

As promised I have started a series of new posts on how to connect with others. You could easily argue that most of my writings in some way answer that question. What I discuss in this series is the essence behind making new and lasting connections. But we have to start someplace, and most of us flinch when it comes to being vulnerable and reaching out.

Flinch explores the phenomena behind our fears that keep us from achieving our goals. A boxer for example learns to not flinch in the face of being hit. The fighter also learns to use the opponents flinch against them by waiting to strike when it appears.

Smith takes the reader through exercises, first putting them back in touch with the flinch and then training them to use it when trying something intimidating or new.

Meeting someone for the first time has a whole set of associated dangers. Questions of inadequacy, acceptance (or worse rejection) and uncertainty come with every new introduction.

As I started the first exercise I paid close attention to what my reactions. Smith’s instructions were simple. Replace your regular comfortable warm shower every morning with icy cold ones….for five days. Not only that, skip the flinch by not letting the hesitation take hold. My first attempt was really difficult. All my muscles tensed up and I thought there was no way I could get to point of doing this without hesitation.

Around the fourth day I realized that something was beginning to shift. I was beginning to not flinch.

In another exercise Smith assigns he challenges the reader to go up to strangers and engage in any type of conversation. For me this is simple. For so many though it is worse than any possible assignment. Like the showers, the initial pain of sticking ones neck out and connecting really is small compared to the benefits of human relationships. But tell that to someone who just can’t bring themselves to actually say the first “hi”.

What I have noticed about the cold shower exercise is that it has changed something beyond my ability to dive into cold water until the pain subsides. I am becoming more deliberate in many of my actions. I am not hesitating when it comes to paying the bills or having the hardest conversations. I am learning to not let the flinch rule.

So if you are up for an assignment, here is a tweak to the one Smith gives when it comes to meeting new people. Make a list of five people you really want to connect with. They can be someone in your hometown or an influencer who lives on the other side of the world. They may be someone you have want to date or they could be a writer that has inspired you in some way. It does not matter. This next week reach out to those five. And when you are done with that list make another one. The first step in connecting with others is…. going first, even if you are facing the flinch.  I can’t wait to hear the stories that unfold.

Desire leads to connection

I was asked once again this week “How do you connect with people so easily?”. I think about the answer all the time, because I am asked at least twice a week.

Desire is an underlying reason. I am continually seeking out what I desire in life. Going one step further I am pursuing those desires. I have found is that I am drawn to others that are passionate about life and are living from their heart as well. Now I could go into what those desires are but really I think it has more to do with attraction. We feel inspired when we are around people who bring out the best in us. I make the most connections on the days that I am awake to my heart. The days that I allow myself to be driven by hope, life and desire are the days I meet the most interesting people.

This morning I watched a video that my two friends Joshua Gordon and Jim Gray shared. It brought back many desires that led me down this path of connection, writing and art. Watch it and pay attention to your reactions. They may answer some deep questions. And if you are asking yourself “How do I connect with others more?”, let those reactions take you on a journey. You may be surprised with the outcome.

Everything and then some

I was off the grid this past week starting around Thursday speaking at an event in the Oregon High Desert. So when I was surprised when learned from Jennifer White that our mutual good friend Mary DeMuth was in need. The last update I saw from Mary was from Haiti where she has been serving. Mary’s youngest daughter was rushed to the hospital with an undiagnosed medical issue on friday.

Mary is one of those people who has greatly changed my life through her writing. Many years ago I dreamed about writing a book about thin places; those physical areas here on earth that thin the veil between heaven and earth. Mary wrote that book and went way beyond what I could have ever done. Tomorrow she releases her new book Everything. The timing of these events is really tough. I am writing this post in hopes that you will pray for Mary but also show her support as she launches her new book. Here are details of how you can help.

You can help in 2 really easy ways:
1. Pray – please pray for her daughter Julia and let her know on her blog.

2. Share the news about her book release tomorrow and throughout the week. You can read up on the book here: http://www.marydemuth.com/everythingthebook/

You will find tweets and retweets happening at @marydemuth and the hashtags #everythingbook

Thanks!
-John