Clarity First Newsletter, December 22, 2017

Clarity First
A notebook about how we work, and learn and love and live.

Monday marked a new moon in Sagittarius. Tuesday was the last day of Hanukah. Yesterday was the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice. And this coming Monday much of the world will stop to celebrate the birth of an avatar.

In honor of this time of turning, this week’s letter is devoted to tips and hacks that promise to help us improve the quality of our lives. Happy holidays, dear reader.

Get up, get out, go to work

“That’s Linus taking a walk, from a Peanuts strip published on October 8, 1970. Here’s Linn Ullmann, in an interview with Vogue, on her father Ingmar Bergman:

 My father was a very disciplined and punctual man; it was a prerequisite for his creativity. There was a time for everything: for work, for talk, for solitude, for rest. No matter what time you get out of bed, go for a walk and then work, he’d say, because the demons hate it when you get out of bed, demons hate fresh air. So when I make up excuses not to work, I hear his voice in my head: Get up, get out, go to your work.

“Get up, get out, go to your work.
(Thanks to Matt.)”
Article: Demons Hate Fresh Air.

(This is a re-post from Austin Kleon’s newsletter and blog. Austin is a perennial source of inspiration to me. Clarity First copies the format, and guiding principal  – “Write what you would want to read” – he crafted for his own weekly letter.

Silence works.

“Silence has been shown to offer significant health advantages that boost overall well-being.”
Article: The Hidden Benefits of Silence

You aren’t your stories.

“It’s likely that there is there is a story running through your mind even as you read this. But we can reduce our stress, rewire our brains, and reinvent our relationships by learning to respond to these stories differently.”
Article: How to Stop Your Stories From Running Your Life

Art is what it is to be human.

“Art Is Frightening
Art isn’t pretty. Art isn’t painting. Art isn’t something you hang on the wall.
Art is what we do when we’re truly alive.
If you’ve already decided that you’re not an artist, it’s worth considering why you made that decision and what it might take to unmake it.
If you’ve announced that you have no talent (in anything!), then you’re hiding.
Art might scare you.
Art might bust you.
But art is who we are and what we do and what we need.” – Seth Godin
Manifesto: We Are All Artists Now

To open your mind, move your body.

Goodlife Zen asked creative people the secret to their creativity. Each, in their own way, said ‘mindful exercise’.
Article: 9 Experts Share the Secret to Their Amazing Creativity

Find the path of least resistance.

The philosopher Guillaume Ferrero suggests that humans operate on the Principle of Least Effort: given several paths, we pick the easiest. Harvard psychologist, Shawn Anchor, puts a finer point on it. He notes that the behavior we choose is the one that’s just 20 seconds easier to start. The good news is that our brains are amazingly easy to trick.
Article: To Get People to Change, Make Change Easy

Think before you speak.

A simple but powerful technique to improve our signal to noise ratio, no matter the medium. Ask the K.N.O.W questions.

1. Knowledge – What do your listeners know about your topic, and what language will resonate with them?
2. Need – What do your listeners need to know in the amount of time you have with them in order to take the action you want them to take?
3. Opinion – What are your listeners’ opinions on your topic?
4. Who – Who, specifically, are your listeners?
Article: Four Steps To Identifying What Your Listeners Really Need


Last week I told you that Xenia Rubinos has a smokey, soulful voice, that she writes songs that blur the lines between past and future, and that she is a master band leader. This week I noticed that her song Lonely Lover was stuck on repeat inside my head. Lines like “Mommy just feels like she needs to breathe today” are very sticky. So, here’s some more Xenia, with that same quartet. This time they’re meeting the Tiny Desk challenge.

Images of the week

The Image of the Week, 1:35 a.m., in Chinatown Restaurant, New York, New York, is by Stephen Shore, 1965–67. “At the Factory, Andy Warhol let Mr. Shore observe his process. In the early hours of the morning, they would go to Chinatown. This shot captures Andy in a completely ordinary scene.”
The smaller image in the header is Beverly Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, California, June 21, 1975.
Article: Stephen Shore’s MoMA Survey Shows a Restless Reformer as a Master of Photography

What’s Clarity First?

If you’re new to Clarity First, it’s the weekly newsletter by Mitch Anthony, and Clarity, the consultancy that helps mission-driven companies use their brand – their purpose, values, and stories – as powerful tools for transformation. Learn more.

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