Everybody Gets to Lead

Everybody actually gets to lead. Everybody in the team has the ability to lead from within that group and put themselves into the best light possible and to help to guide what’s happening in an organization.
Selena Delesie — How to Be an Outstanding Leader

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The Neverending Struggle for Mastery

In “A Quick Note on Getting Better at Difficult Things,” Ta-Nehisi Coates shares this lovely observation about learning French:

Studying French is like setting in a canoe from California to China. You arrive on the coast of Hawaii and think, “Wow that was really far.” And then you realize that China is still so very far away.

I’ve been there. When I was living in Germany, I was thrilled every time something went right: a phone call, an appointment, a shopping trip. Those little moments when I succeeded at communicating. And then I would have a conversation that left me befuddled and frustrated, and I would see that immense gap between the German I knew and the German I needed to know, and I felt like a failure.

But it’s really about celebrating those successes, as tiny as they may be. Enjoying the moments when you feel you’ve finally done it (whatever “it” is) and letting those moments carry you as you struggle onward.

New Year’s Recommendations

I’m not one for setting New Year’s resolutions — I’m too prone to getting overly excited at first and then losing interest in them. Instead, in recent years I have focused on continually reviewing and recommitting to my priorities, and trying to build sustainable habits. I still go through ups and downs, times where I am more or less successful at maintaining those habits, but I find that this approach works better for me throughout the year.

That said, the beginning of the year is a nice time to reflect on what has worked well over the past year and share some recommendations with those of you looking for help with your own habits and priorities:

1. YogaToday — If you are looking for a low-friction way to introduce more yoga into your routine, I highly recommend YogaToday. They have the best array of teachers on any yoga website I’ve tried, with high-quality classes and a large archive to choose from. I don’t think online yoga classes can fully replace in-person classes with a live teacher, but I find that I’m more likely to practice yoga multiple times a week when I can also do it at home.

2. Audio Dharma — If you are interested in mindfulness meditation, want to deepen your understanding of it, or want a little boost to help you meditate more often, I recommend this podcast. They have new episodes nearly every day, including talks and guided meditations.

3. edX — If you want to take an online, university-level course, I recommend trying edX first. I have tried many other sites offering MOOCs or other online learning environments, and I’ve never found another service that provides the same sort of high-level, in-depth, long-lasting teaching as the edX classes.

4. Geocaching.com — If you are trying to spend more time outside or exercising, geocaching can be a great way to motivate yourself to get out there. Basically, geocaching is like doing a treasure hunt. You have GPS coordinates (or, if you’re like me, an app on your phone mapping those coordinates) and you go out for a walk to find the cache. I use it as an excuse to walk or hike in new places I might not otherwise explore.

5. Blogging U. — If you are trying to blog more often, expand your blogging skills, or increase your connections with other bloggers, my colleagues lead a variety of courses in the Blogging U series. Coming up next is Blogging 101: Zero to Hero. (I admit I’ve only tried the Photo 101 course, and I wasn’t the most diligent student, but I’ve seen so many people get so much out of these courses.)

How about you? Any fun or helpful resources you’d recommend?