Often mindless pontification, occasional greatness. These blog posts are on my opinions, including reviews of books and music.

Availability, Creativity, and Momentum

I know I’ve been unusually quiet here over the past several weeks. This morning I stopped to consider how it could have been nearly a month since I last published a post to my personal blog. I made a few observations.

When I write something—and it could be anything: a blog post, an email, a handwritten letter—the three things I need in ample supply are availability, creativity, and momentum. I can usually make myself available if I say no when I ought to. It’s the other two that are often more difficult to conjure up. I’m envious of some of my friends who seem to have an endless supply of remarkable creativity. But even when I have a great idea that I’d like to explore I often find that overcoming the inertia in my soul brought on by life’s busyness and challenges is more than I can handle. This is where I’ve been this past month.

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The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

I recently read a great blog post by Greg McKeown of The Harvard Business Review Blog Network titled “The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.” He talks about a theory he calls the clarity paradox, which has four phases.

Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, it leads to success.
Phase 2: When we have success, it leads to more options and opportunities.
Phase 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, it leads to diffused efforts.
Phase 4: Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place.

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The Freedom to be Disinterested

Yesterday I read a compelling blog post by Andre Torrez in which he writes that he no longer tells people he’s busy. Instead he gets to the heart of the matter.

So the final piece I have been working on is never telling people I am busy. Because no, I am not busy. Yes, I have a lot of stuff to do, but I leave it at the office after work and on the weekends. I have many things I am interested in, but I can always make room for something if it is worth doing.

Rather than say: “I am too busy, I don’t have any time for X.” I realize I can be honest and say I am not interested enough in X to do it.

I see this as a huge paradigm shift. Instead of blaming my unavailability on my schedule, making it the villain and me its helpless victim, I could take ownership of the decision by making a value statement. Of course this approach could end up making me the villain, right? I imagine that’s why it seems so radical. Who wants to voluntarily put themselves in that position?

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Five Ways I’m Improving My Personal System

Ask anyone who knows me well (or anyone familiar with the INTJ personality type) and they’ll tell you I’m a man of systems. I’m constantly asking, “Does it work?” and trying to make improvements to eliminate any friction where I find it. Lately much of my mental and emotional energy has been channeled into trying to figure out how to live life well again. Change has been a constant in 2012. The routines, structures, and systems I’d built my day-to-day existence on for years have become outmoded. I’ve been focusing on five ways I can improve my personal system for the new season I’m in.

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Home of the Nice Guys

Ladies, I’m not saying you ought to settle. But you might find it’s worth giving a guy a chance to win your heart even if he’s not exactly who you thought he’d be. But if you do choose to turn guys down flatly, at the very least don’t follow that by publicly lamenting over the fact that you’re not yet married.

In the interest of full disclosure, I say this as a man who has finally found someone willing to extend that chance after years of being attracted solely to women who would not.

My Soundtrack for 2011

Hurray! It’s time for my annual soundtrack. I can hardly believe I’ve now made five of these things. These are the twelve songs that impacted me the most this year.

I love the cohesiveness of this mix. Tracks one and twelve form bookends, a kind of point and counter-point that frame three narratives. Tracks two through four depict the rise and fall of unrequited affection. Tracks five through nine all have something to say about heaven. Tracks ten and eleven are about regaining perspective.

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A Letter from a Father

This is a guest post by my friend Bryan Zhang. Bryan is a graduate of the FSU Film School. He’s the director of many short films that have appeared on my blog, including those in the Campus Safari series and the Generations series. Actually, Bryan has shown up in a lot of my blog posts, much as he tends to show up at my house unannounced. If you like this post you should check out his website. You can find him on Twitter as @realbryanzhang.

I’m 22 years old and I have the whole world in front of me. I live in a world of infinite options and possibilities. And I know I’m not alone. My generation is filled with people who look at their future and frown at the gaping question mark. I remember being asked what I would do after graduation. What a horrible question. And we all know the drill for answering that question – put on a meek smile and vaguely reference some “opportunity-somewhere-that-might-work-but-then-again-you-don’t-know-and-then-humbly-say-you’re-open-to-whatever-God-wants-you-to-do- but-you-don’t-really-know-what-that-means-because-you’re-scared-out-of-your- mind.”

I’ve come to realize that God’s not going to spell out my entire life for me. In fact, it really seems like He’s primarily concerned with the work being done in me over the work done through me. So what does this mean? What’s God’s desire for my life?

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You were you – Even at two

This is a guest post by my friend Brittney Harlacher. Brittney is a stay-at-home mom, married to the love of her life, who also happens to be her high school sweetheart. Their three incredible daughters fill their home with laughter and glitter. She is currently homeschooling their eldest child, pre-homeschooling their middle child and answering forty-two “why” questions a day for their youngest child. Before God blessed their family with these bundles of joy, Brittney worked as a Speech Writer for the president of Florida State University.

Back in the days of yore, when I was in college (before iPhones, Google or texting), there was a very popular personality test making its way around my group of friends. It was called Myers-Briggs, and with four simple letters it told you who you were and how you viewed the world. INFJ, ENTP, ISFP, ESTJ – suddenly it made sense why other drivers on the road made you crazy or why putting together a bicycle from nothing but bolts and tubing was super easy or why you chucked that doctorate degree to pursue acting. But your mom and dad could have told you that and you wouldn’t have wasted an hour bubbling in a questionnaire.

Before you could suck your thumb, roll over and smile (HUGE milestones when you are new to the world…go ahead look at a new parent’s recent photos of their little bundle of joy and see how many shots of the first “smile” they have…and yes I am guilty as charged) you either liked the attention of many or preferred the cuddling of one; you got over things quickly or put on your best pouty face for a couple of hours;  you moved on to the next, new, interesting thing or preferred to stop and smell the flowers.

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Creative Spaces: The Key to Creative Productivity

This is a guest post by my friend Patrick Gines. Patrick is a graduate of the FSU Film School and a talented filmmaker. I had the privilege of helping him out with his social media presence during the production of his thesis film, When the Waters Rise. If you like this post you should check out his website. You can find him on Twitter as @patrickgines.

In order for me to produce creativity, I require creative space. I am the creative director at Four Oaks Church Tallahassee, and a prime example of this came when I switched offices this year. In January of 2011 I had an office located on the staff wing of the building. It was one of the earth-toned, four-walled boxes finished off with a drop celling and automatic fluorescent lights. By March I was no longer doing any work in my office because it made me feel as unattractive and lame as it sounds. Now, when I say this, I am not ignoring the importance of buckling-down and being productive where you are; yet, I will argue that in order to sustain continued creative product, creative space is required, and what that creative space should ensure is a creative feeling to work from.

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Some Name Ideas for my New Personal Podcast

In the first episode of my podcast I requested name suggestions since I wasn’t all that thrilled with The Morning Rant as my title. I chose it because my blog title has always included the phrase “Rantings, Ravings and Writings” in one form or another, and I’ve even used an abbreviated variation on some other, smaller projects like my tumble blog.

Thoughts from the Audience

A couple people wrote in suggestions. They include:

Prelude to my Week
Rob Sucks/Joe Sucks *
Inside the Andrew’s Studio
Life, Tech, and Jesus
What’s Better than Regular Drew? *
Mountain Drew

* indicates an inside joke

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