Monday, October 8, 2018

More About Cross-Pollination

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with cross-pollination. I’m not talking plants; I’m talking about linking up with endeavors of different kinds. I have a lot of writer friends, and I value their insights and knowledge, but it occurred to me that all of us should be looking at other fields for inspiration and information, too. Why not? I believe there are universal principals that can guide us to success, and maybe we can tap into some of that by extending beyond the writing community. How about looking at successful people in say, the arts, history, or science? What are their guiding principals, their strategies that have placed them at the top of their occupations?

In my article about Annie Leibovitz that was posted in ALLI last month, I took a foray into the art of photography and connected it with the art of writing.  I enjoyed that so much that I started looking for other possible connections. I didn’t expect to find exactly what I wanted about secrets to success in the financial world, but I did. I stumbled on Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge-fund firm, and here’s what caught my attention: “Without pursuing dreams, life is mundane.”

What writer can’t agree with that? Well, this one, for sure. But then he talks about what he calls hyper-realism. So, because I’m curious if nothing else, I wanted to know what that means and what that does. He explains it as being a deep understanding, an acceptance and being able to work with reality as it is and not as he wishes it were.

Okay. I got it. And I’m paying attention.

Later he gives what he says are his secrets to investing and managing money and—most importantly—getting through the next 24 hours. I can use all the help I can get when it comes to “getting through” another day and actually accomplishing something, too.

Here are Galio’s Secrets: 

  • Know your goals and run after them. 
Identify and face the problems, however painful, that stand in the way of your goals. 

  • Diagnose the root causes of these problems. 

  • Design a plan to get around these obstacles. 
Execute on your plan, pushing yourself to do whatever is needed. 

Are these secrets to success universal enough?
I see why this man is so successful. He has a philosophy that is overarching, much larger than one that’s about making money. He spoke directly to me here: “You will lose something or someone you think you can’t live without. You might think your life is ruined and there’s no way to go forward. But it will pass. There’s always a best path forward; you just don’t see it yet.”

Okay, now I stop and push back in my chair because the day before I read this article, my Zen teacher said, and I paraphrase, when you’re in doubt about making a decision, give it time. Don’t rush it. Let the right choice come to you. It will.

I’m now feeling as if I’m in a cosmic vortex, and my head’s filled with how I can use this, how others can use this. As writers haven’t you had times the plot won’t work, the agent fails, the book languishes without sales, or you’re undecided about which path to publication you want to take? Have you agonized over what to do? I certainly have, so I’m making notes about this waiting and giving it time and not catapulting into a ill-advised decision. And I’m thinking about what Dalio says about there being a “pathway” to  the right decision when I find, “Unfortunately, you probably won’t like it…”

Well, try me. So I read on.

He calls it radical open-mindedness. Wait. That means I can’t be right all the time. Really? But please continue Mr. Dalio.

“Your deepest-seated needs and fears reside in areas of your brain that control your emotions (I’m inserting the amygdala, you know, the old fight or flight part of us) and are not accessible to your higher-level conscious awareness,” Dalio says. “And because our need to be right can be more important than our need to find out what’s true, we like to believe our own opinions without properly stress-testing them.

“We especially don’t like to look at our mistakes and weaknesses.” He adds, “We are instinctively prone to react to explorations of them as though they’re attacks. We get angry, even though it would be more logical for us to be open to feedback from others.”

I’m all for learning more, not less and I’d love to make some good decisions in just about every aspect of my life, including the writing part. As I read more, I started asking myself if I’m living up to my potential or falling short because I’m not paying attention?

And you, do you shut down when someone criticizes your work, or do you take a look at that criticism and consider it? Do you practice radical open-mindedness instead of shutting down in anger? As a writer, what do you think about cross-pollination, learning from people who are in   different fields?


nashvillecats2 said...

This is most interesting to read, I have no garden only house plants.
Thanks for sharing this post.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That makes sense. How many people dig in and fight for their viewpoint, right or not? Because we'd rather be right than find the right way and it's not our own.

Pat Hatt said...

Learning from people in other fields/places is great. And I'd rather be wrong a thousand times than be right once. Why? Because, if you're willing, you learn way more from being wrong than you ever do from being right. If you're right, you learn mostly nothing as you already know the answer.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I need to see if he has a book out. Success principles are the same no matter what and we can learn from those poised for other markets and opportunities. I learned a lot from a book called The Tipping Point.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Now this is very interesting, Lee... I absolutely like to hear opinions from others who are in different fields. W can learn from everyone.... Thanks for sharing!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee - love this and I'll be back to refer to again and no doubt again. This is very similar to the disciplines working together at the Oxford Martin School I mentioned in my #WATWB in August ... and I've been following up on James Martin - who as Bill Gates describes 'is indeed an influential technology leader'. So I'll be coming back to your post ... thanks for reminding us ... that we need to not just get an education: but make one. I've been reading books in this direction ...

Excellent post - thanks ... cheers Hilary

Juneta key said...

Great post. Thoughts for fodder.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Being involved in a theater group has given me the opportunity to see another form of art that is different than writing but in some ways the same. I could relate to a lot of this, both in terms of writing and life in general.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

That is great advice. I suppose they say writing is life, so it makes sense that everything can become a story or advice.

cleemckenzie said...

I'm pleased to see that so many of you like to reach out and learn from all different kinds of people. Pat you restated it perfectly. I heard about the Tipping Point, Diane, but haven't read it. I loved Hilary's comment about making our own education. And Natalie, how great that you're involved in a theater group. That must be such fun and very rewarding. Waving at Michael. Great to see you here.

Sherry Ellis said...

I think the first reaction of most people is to get angry at a negative review. Once that has passed, I think it's possible to step back and take a look at it. Sometimes one can pick up some helpful advice if one has an open mind.

Michelle Wallace said...

Lee, I love the Cross-Pollination train of thought. It mirrors a question that has played on my mind for quite a while now...
How do different art forms impact on one another?
For example, the concept of rhythm is one that applies to both writing and music.
Something to think about...

Mark said...

Always good advice: Keep openminded and pursue your goals:)

cleemckenzie said...

Art of all kinds comes from the wellspring our of our essence as humans. I know they’re interconnected and affect each other. You’ve made me think of another article! Thanks Michelle. lee

Lynda Dietz said...

It's tough to find out that we're not always right. I think one of the things that's helped me to be a little more open-minded (not so much that my brains fall out, mind you) is that I regularly dispense (hopefully) helpful criticism to others through my work. Why should I think others shouldn't provide the same for me if it's needed?

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I think it's hard not to shut down when someone criticizes my work, especially because I view my work as central to who I am. I think it depends on how the criticism is delivered. If a person is brutally honest, I'm more likely to get defensive. But if the person gives constructive criticism, then it's easier to accept it.

Ornery Owl of Naughty Netherworld Press and Readers Roost said...

For me, there's criticism and there's attack. Unfortunately, because of being bullied throughout school and having perfectionistic parents who inadvertently raised me to believe that I couldn't do anything right no matter how hard I tried, attacks tend to make me flare up and then shut down and become mired in self-doubt. I appreciate constructive criticism, i.e. "Cie, this paragraph is confusingly worded, and you never mentioned this character before." Sometimes when one is writing, one is so mired in their own Universe that they forget that other people are visitors and need an explanation of the characters and various events.
Constructive criticism helps writers and artists to build and grow rather than to become discouraged and walk away.
It's easy to say that we should just ignore the kind of toxic schmucks who enjoy attacking others' creations. Maybe some people are self-assured enough to do that and walk away unscathed. I'm not, although becoming older and meaner, I have developed a degree of self-esteem which allows me to blow off the kinds of losers who delight in causing harm.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I have so many interests outside of writing that sometimes I just give into the urge to indulge them and ignore writing. I learned early on in working with editors to step away when their suggestions irritated me. It felt so personal when they were only trying to make my writing better. It's interesting to hear where that anger comes from. Stupid lizard brain.