Not Done Yet

I’m not done yet.

I’m not done becoming, growing, learning, discovering, adventuring. I’m not done becoming myself. I’m not done because there is no such thing.

All together now: there is no such thing as being “done.”

This is an unnerving, even frightening idea and it’s also an exhilarating one.

It’s both unnerving and exhilarating because I get to decide.

I get to decide where to go, who to be with, what to read, what to say, what to feel and  how much more to stretch my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual capacity. I get to decide all of that.

I’m not done yet. And I get to decide what to do about it.



Which 15%?

I recently shared an idea with a group of 20 people.

Three of those people affirmed and encouraged it. That’s 15%.

Three of those people rejected it. That’s another 15%.

I did not receive a response from the other 13 people, the remaining 70%.

Now, the decision is mine: do I fixate on the 15% who rejected it or the 15% who encouraged it?

I am hardwired to do the former. We all are.

But no dream of creation ever came into being because it was hardwired. Sometimes all we’re given is the tiniest shred – far less than 15% – and our job is to take that sliver of possibility and breathe it into life.

{Kay Ryan}

A chick has just so much time
to chip its way out, just so much
egg energy to apply to the weakest spot
or whatever spot it started at.
It can’t afford doubt. Who can?
Doubt uses albumen
at twice the rate of work.
One backward look by any of us
can cost what it cost Orpheus.
Neither may you answer
the stranger’s knock;
you know it is the Person from Porlock
who eats dreams for dinner,
his napkin stained the most delicate colors.

person holding brown chick during daytime

Photo by Pixabay on

One Good Thing

An invitation for your consideration:

At the end of your Tuesday workday, ask and answer this question:

What was one good thing that happened today?

It doesn’t matter if you have a surfeit of answers or if absolutely nothing comes immediately to mind. What matters, once you land on it, is that you make it as specific as possible, as concrete as possible.

I’m not a big positive psychology guy, nor do I make lots of gratitude lists. I just happen to subscribe to Viktor Frankl’s admonition that regardless of our circumstances we always get to choose our attitude.

And I happen to believe that in order to choose an attitude that will keep us moving forward it helps to have some evidence to make the case.

Regardless of your circumstances, force yourself to answer: What was one good thing that happened today?

green leafy plant starting to grow on beige racks

Photo by on


The Same, but Different

It’s easy to forget that my perspective on the matter is not the only one, not the only possible interpretation.

The same thing, seen in another way, from another angle, from a different set of eyes and experiences, can and likely will form a different impression.

The intersection of those two points of view is a choice point. It is the place at which we can choose a stance of investigation and integration or one of intransigence and certainty. And it is a choice, that’s the most important realization of all. It is always a choice.

These photos were taken within seconds of one another. No filters, no manipulation. It is the same thing, and from one angle to the next it is completely different.



‘Earth Wall’ – Andy Goldsworthy – San Francisco
Photo credit: David Berry, 2019

Always Bet On Yourself

You are not going to get picked.

No one is going to tap you on the shoulder and say, “It’s your turn. Right this way, please.”

There is no committee of “deciders” who will stumble upon your work, some fragment of your idea and fall so in love with it that they grant you permission to begin.

You have your track record, your value system and people “whose eyes light up when they see you coming.”

That’s enough. That’s everything.

Stop waiting for permission. Bet on yourself.

HT to HA & MW

Independent Study

I’m in the process of co-creating a summer independent study curriculum for one of my students. As we began our discussion of the design, I asked her what she most wanted to get out of the experience. She talked about gaining practical, usable skills in her field of study, about doing something interactive, hands-on and engaging. She is nearing the end of her undergraduate career and clearly hungry for something that resembles what goes on in the “real world.”

The independent study arrangement is a jewel of an opportunity. Created and managed well it can serve as a doorway to, and incentive for, the kind of learning I hope that all people will aspire to throughout their professional lives.

And, good news, the independent study approach is not proprietary to higher education. It is, in fact, available to anyone so inclined to design an approach to their own learning with the support of one or more supportive collaborators.

Recently I asked you to consider what it is you have to teach us. Today, I wonder, what is it you are ready to learn?

Who will you ask to help you? And when will you begin?

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.

Choose to Make it Better

“The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.”
{Richard Rohr}

If you’re struggling in a poor work environment – not a toxic one, mind you but one that is marked by ineffectual leadership and uninspired co-workers – you can do one of three things:

  1. Leave
  2. Stay and join in the misery
  3. Make it better

Important to note that choosing #3 does not require you to make the whole thing better, just the three foot circle of it that surrounds you everywhere you go.

You could choose to have a radically positive and affirming attitude. You could choose to be on time in the morning, for all appointments and meetings and with your work as well. You could choose to compliment and recognize other’s contributions. You could choose to offer support when someone needs help. You could choose to abstain from complaining about what can’t be controlled and begin conversations about what can.

Your efforts may not yield the ripple effects necessary to shift the environment in a more favorable direction, but they might. And in the process, for as long as you choose to stay, you will feel better about yourself, most likely do better work, and be a light for others who are also trying to find a better way.

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.

You Get to Choose

You have a choice today: to lead with your competence, your position, your title, your sanctioned authority, or to lead with connection, your open heart, your curiosity, your earned authority.

You have a choice today – a choice you have every day – and how you choose determines the culture of your workplace, the quality of your relationships and the level of joy experienced in the work itself.

Please do not underestimate this choice. In fact, just try to overestimate the ripple effects of its impact. You will struggle to do so because most people do. A reality that positive and that full of possibility cannot be assumed, it must be earned.

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.


How Did You Stay?

The only thing worse – and it’s much, much worse – than someone leaving your organization because they are disconnected, disenchanted and disengaged, is when someone feels that way but decides instead to quit and stay.

Even in a great job market like we are experiencing right now, it’s a major inconvenience to research, apply for, interview and negotiate the terms of a new job. That process is made even harder in a toxic situation because it’s all done behind the back of one’s current employer.

I am familiar with an organization that is going through a period of difficult transition. They have been leaderless for some time and into that vacuum have crept many individualistic survivalist tendencies among those who remain. It is dispiriting to see some people going through the motions, looking out for themselves and checking the boxes on their responsibilities.

It also happens to be an organization with a clear and noble purpose, one that is so clear and noble that it might actually seem too simple to make the embrace of it the core strategy for getting back on track.

My encouragement to anyone, regardless of level or role, who is in this situation, who is deciding between quitting and staying and who does not wish to “quit and stay” is to begin a conversation about that purpose. It’s too easy to get caught up in the leader’s failings or the team’s misgivings as a replacement for the more essential conversation.

That conversation, among those who are willing, contains some difficult and powerful questions:

  1. Starting with myself, what attracted me to our purpose in the first place? What did I come here to do?
  2. How invested am I in that purpose today? How much do I care if it is fulfilled?
  3. Whom do I serve? And what is it that they need most from me and from us right now? Does it still energize me to play a part in meeting those needs?
  4. Who among my colleagues is also in this place of frustration and is also open to an honest and reflective inquiry? What conversation might I have with them about how to navigate this moment in our experience?
  5. What’s a next step I can take to reframe my experience, to challenge myself to see what might be possible in staying that will not be possible once I go?

What’s clear is that most of these questions are at the level of the individual because until we have a personal confrontation with what is fundamental, and do so with integrity, we will remain unable to do so with others.

These questions and ensuing conversations are anything but an easy path to take, but it’s one that is worth walking if you are not ready to consign yourself to a daily existence of present but not present.

“At least I didn’t leave when times got tough!”

“Yes, but how did you stay?”

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.

What are you going to do about it?

IMG_6337A few years ago, I added my birthday to my calendar with a highly specific and presumptuous question attached.

Each year, on the day before, I get a little nudge to consider what kind of contribution, what kind of person, what kind of learning I intend to make/be/take on in the year ahead.

I love it and I hate it.

I love the invitation to embrace the simple, sober truth that every single day could be my last and that I damn well better make the most of it.

I hate the reminder that I get to choose, for as long as I’m here and healthy and bestowed with the largesse of privilege at my fingertips, I get to choose just what to make of every day.

And so, here on the eve of my 49th birthday and the commencement of my 50th year what I’m going to do about it is this:

I intend to love the people I love more generously and with a more abundant spirit of service.

I intend to expand my self-awareness and deepen my spirituality because it makes me a better human and a better agent of change and because I can’t ask people to do the things I am not willing to do myself!

I will continue to write every day and practice piano every day, commitments that enrich my daily life and keep me at the edge of my learning. I will also sing more, because I love to sing (and it’s why I started to play the piano).

I will create, based on my book, A More Daring Lifea workbook that allows readers to more practically apply its central teachings to their own lives. And I will use that workbook in the context of workshops for college students and professionals, anyone who is ready to move to the edge of their experience.

Further afield, but very present on my mind, I will move this year towards a concrete plan to make the pilgrimage of The Way of St. James in northern Spain, an endeavor I will complete within the next two years.

Finally, in the coming year, I will seek to be present and connected. I will ask for help instead of being stubborn and I will listen before giving advice. And I will ask forgiveness when I fail at all of the above.

I am older, slightly wiser, and massively energized for what’s to come.

Happy birthday to me!

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.