An Active Rest

Under the winter sun and beneath the cold, hardened ground, spring is already hard at work, getting ready to go, ready to grow.

It is our responsibility to stay present to the lessons and possibilities of the current season while also preparing for the one that is to come.

“Winter” has two more months to make its case, one that reminds us to come back to ourselves, to conserve and to evaluate. But this is – this must be – an active rest, not a stagnant one.

The roots of the trees are busily storing water and nutrients for what’s to come. If not, there is no spring.


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Do or Do Not, There is No Try

Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing.
{William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida}


Yes, I blatantly stole an epic quote from the Star Wars pantheon as a title for this post. Between Yoda and Shakespeare it’s tough to go wrong and I prefer to save my energy rather than fruitlessly attempt to improve upon their genius.

In both cases they are extolling us to make the shift from a passive to an active approach to life.

Passivity is a practice, a habit, that is employed to soften the blow.

“I will try to make it to your event” is what you say when you have no intention of attending but don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings.

“I will try to learn how to play the piano” is what you say when you are scared that you actually won’t be able to…or won’t have the fortitude to stick with it when it get’s hard.

Why does it seem so bold, or callous even, to say “I will not attend the event. I have other priorities right now”? It’s true, it’s honest, and it allows the other person to clear the mental space that is otherwise spent on a bunch of “Will she or won’t she?” energy.

Why does it seem so bold, or brazen even, to say “I am going to learn how to play the piano”? It speaks of commitment to a clear choice that removes the mystery of “Will I be able to?”  and replaces it with “I’m going to find out.” And, if it’s really not your thing, now you know and you can move on and stop wondering about it. More mental space opened up…what a relief!

No discussion, even a brief one, of passivity is complete without mention of passive aggressive behavior which in classic ironic fashion ends up feeling even more aggressive to the recipient – a hundred tiny daggers – than if they just aggressively said their piece – one swing of the sword. It’s yet another example of passivity being employed to soften the blow and filling up our available mental and emotional space with needless anxiety.

Be clear, be open, be bold. Other people can handle it, including yourself. Your assumption that they cannot – that you cannot – is no longer worthy of you.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.

“We” vs “You”

If you regularly say “we” when you mean “you” that’s worth stopping to think about.

If you want something to happen but you would like someone else to take care of it, it’s best to just let them know.

This is active versus passive language. If you say “we” you are somehow cushioning the blow. Because if you say “you” and they say “no” you might have to do it yourself. And you might not want to. For a million reasons. But you don’t want the other person to feel that you don’t care.

But you do care. You care a lot!

Which means it’s time to practice owning what you care about by practicing direct language.

“We’ve agreed that this needs to happen and I don’t have the time/energy/resources to take care of it. Will you please make it happen?”

Or… “We’ve both agreed this needs to happen. Will you please take care of this part and I’ll take care of the other?”

Most people, most of the time prefer to know where you stand.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.