I recently discovered something about myself. And it might be true for you, too.
It came to me during one of my time-traveling archaeological ‘digs’—part of a larger project of revisiting 20 years of my public writings.
Even when I have felt like I am sharing the more real aspects of my story, turns out:
I hold back.
If I were to walk through why I do this—and ask you why you might do the same—three reasons come to mind:
I hold back to negotiate with single-gravity realities… at work, on the stage of business, with certain in-groups. Containing multitudes can be both confusing and disruptive to norms. Anchoring to a single point of view… a listicle here or there… just seems… well… easier.
I hold back to stay within an acceptable box… in a career; in a male-dominated industry; within companies where I’ve never been the majority shareholder; within pre-2020s gender norms.
I hold back to appear “easy” and “normal” to work with… women and minority groups are not given the same affordances as savant eccentrics like Charlie Kaufman (fwiw: I see this tide changing—and am grabbing my surfboard to ride this wave with my divergent, queer, non-confirming, and non-white brethren—surfs up, Turtles).
What have I lost in holding back?
At the core of the filters I’ve used, two things come to mind: I collapse my multitudes and I silence my intuition.
We live in certain single-gravity realities—and yet contain multitudes. We are asked for minimum viable products and 160 character responses. We are time poor and attention starved. We advertise in 2-7 second bursts to our lowest common faculties. We scan, we don’t read.
I have had to often go against the grooves and grains of my intuition. I have had to give ground on my vision and ideas when I shouldn’t have—and in ways my male colleagues and male co-founders wouldn’t have. It’s not all the time… and I fully accept it has to be some of the time… but it has been in enough times that I am deciding to make some changes.
Who doesn’t hold back?
There are many things and people I could list here. Essentially any artist or great thinker to rise to our attention would be a candidate.
I will use two examples that hopefully open the door in your mind to many more:
It's no surprise to me that Sci-Fi has only grown in popularity. It represents a series of realities; of Universes; of possibilities; of personhood. Of empowered agency. Sci-Fi venerates those of us at the edges and questions why those in the middle don’t wake up. Keep writing, keep watching. Rise up.
It’s also no surprise that Harry Styles resonates with so many. Look at how he dresses, carries himself, sings, and lives. He contains multitudes. He is steadfast in who he is. That’s the luxury. What’s your version of containing multitudes? of standing steadfast in who you are?
To sense-make, a few Discernments & Prompts:
We all operate in structures e.g. matrices, grids, and boxes in order to negotiate with realities of life. And in some cases, we in fact want to work across, cut through, go off of, and think outside of these realities.
P1: Which structures do you want to explore the edges of? outside of?
P2: Where is it safe and inviting to do so? where is it dangerous? why?
P3: Who / what invites you out? holds you back? what are their agendas?
We also exist in spaces that allow for more permeable boundaries: e.g. communities, friend groups, chosen family, bio family, neighborhoods, offline, tech-free, non-streamed gatherings. Related: I am building some TuRTLe CiRCLes this summer, stay tuned for IRL invites.
P4: What are your permeable spaces?
P5: Could you replicate these permeable spaces elsewhere?
Our beliefs and principles show up in all of this somewhere, too. Structured and steadfast; yet, if we're open to it, emerging and evolving; permeable, interactive, responsive.
P6: Which beliefs-principles-values are challenged most by reality?
P7: What’s the utility of steadfastness? of permeability?
To land the saucer for the week, I leave you with the wise words of a friend-mentor (Dom) on my birthday:
May you find and be: steadfast luxury.
For me, this evokes:
Slowing down is my new going fast. Craft over hack.
Containing multitudes and complexity is my new default state.
Growth that is with nature, seasonal and not exponential.
Here is to standing steadfast in
and to working as a team
to achieve more.
ps: Two related pieces orbiting the Turtlesphere I thought you might enjoy…
Scale yourself while developing others [by lb on Medium, 6 min read]
Apprenticeship: Reflections on gathering power [by JJH, one of my role models]
This resonated SO much and you really do see the world so differently and it's amazing and I'm thrilled you're putting it down on paper and sharing your truths. Thank you! Biggest Mahalos my long time friend.