100 episodes

modern tales of an ancient pursuit

Leaning Toward Wisdom Randy Cantrell

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 10 Ratings

modern tales of an ancient pursuit

    How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything

    How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything

    Well, it's not true that how you do anything is how you do everything, but still I'm rather fond of the concept because it works. For instance, do you step over things that need to be picked up? I don't mean snotty tissues or other debris that might be a campground for all kinds of filth. Say you're out walking on a trail and you see a discarded soda can. Do you pick it up or leave it? Some would pick it up and others wouldn't. There's also a 3rd group - those who don't see it. Or don't care.

    People who notice seem to always notice.

    People who pick up things seem always to pick up things.

    People who don't pick up something seem never to pick up things.

    I've found this to be mostly --- true.

    I pick things up. But not every time. Some nasty-looking tissue is likely going to remain as I walk past it. The place matters, too. If I'm on a busy sidewalk I won't pick up a gum wrapper, much less a snotty tissue. In that context, I'm not likely going to stop to pick up anything other than something valuable or something a person may have dropped. Still, how you do anything tends to be how you do everything. But that's not as powerful a phrase.

    Social media (mostly) has taught me I have a horrible deficiency. Okay, it's taught me I have many horrible deficiencies with this one included - I don't foster controversy. I'm not polarizing. Absolutes are powerful because they're polarizing and that gets attention. I don't clamor for or yearn for attention. Yes, I want the attention of some to listen to this podcast - and the other podcasts I produce. Yes, I want people to read, or at least scroll through, things I write. Yes, I want people to gain something from the sermons I preach and all the other content I produce - which means first, they have to pay some attention. For me, the context is always the message though. The thought. The question. Provoking thought in hopes our thoughts will drive us to change, grow, and improve. For the past few decades, I've been fixated on improving my ability to figure things out and finding ways to help others do the same.

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    • 32 min
    Do The Hard Things Really Well

    Do The Hard Things Really Well

    Bariatric surgeries have increased over 500% since 1998.

    Bariatric surgeries have exploded (that might not be the proper verb) in recent years. Part of the reason is the improved technologies to make it "minimally invasive," but I think it's primarily because people want a fast, easy fix. And now add a new found popularity of drugs like Ozempic ® making weight-loss even easier.

    Everybody wants fast and easy. Nobody prefers slow and hard. But there are some things where slow and hard provide a value not found in fast and easy.

    After a round of NFL playoffs games as the 2023/2024 season was winding down I heard a coach say something I've heard before, but something I hadn't heard in awhile. He remarked that great football teams do the hard things really well. For months I've thought about it even though I instantly knew he was right. There's beauty and wisdom in the struggle. Never mind that we don't always enjoy it. It benefits us.

    There's that old tale of a man watching a caterpillar struggle to escape its cocoon. Figuring he'd make it easier for the butterfly to emerge he got a pair of scissors and snipped parts of the cocoon. Minutes later some creature not even resembling a butterfly escaped the cocoon. Turns out by making it easy he had ruined any chance for the caterpillar to enter a phase of being a butterfly. The struggle required to wriggle out of the cocoon forced life into the wings. No struggle, no wings. No wings, no butterfly life.

    It's a good reminder of the value of our own struggles. Even if, in the moment, we can't quite see the future benefit.

    In Thy Paths

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    • 49 min
    False Assumptions About Retirement

    False Assumptions About Retirement

    More specifically maybe...false assumptions about my (our) retirement...

    That you must have at least a million dollars to retire.

    That you really need three million dollars to retire with security.

    That you should delay collecting Social Security until at least 65, and preferably until 70.

    That you should travel.

    That you should do all the things you've always wanted to do, but never got around to.

    That you'll struggle with a sense of purpose.

    That you may struggle with boredom if you're not careful.

    That it will cost you much more than you figured.

    That it's important to have (and pursue) a bucket list.

    That you'll have much more leisure time.

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    • 52 min
    Hanging On By A Thread

    Hanging On By A Thread


    Happy Father's Day 2024!

    My dad enjoying the sunshine

    The what was crystal clear.

    The how was no where in sight.

    Casey Neistat is the OG of YouTube, vlogging and social media creation. He's associated with New York, but it wasn't always so. Casey set his sights on NYC knowing he wanted to make it there. Without any idea or plan on how to do it. But he'd grown up hanging on by a thread so he was comfortable.

    Casey had two qualities that drove him, gratitude and optimism. A little boy with absentee parents. No restraints. No security. Hanging on by a thread.

    One man's ceiling is another man's floor.

    The desperation and despair drove him. Created him. Forged him.

    Watching Casey for years and knowing his story got me thinking about mastering the hang. The hanging by a thread. Handling risk and failure. Hanging on. Even by a thread because even a thread provides suspension above failure. And despair. In the thread we find hope. Enough hope to continue.

    Patience vs. impatience.

    A willingness to hang on by that thread for however long it'll take.

    Casey describes his early life as a life without any plan B. He was working 60 hours a week making $7.25 an hour working in a restaurant kitchen. What was he going to do? Move back to southeastern Connecticut where he'd grown up in despair? Optimism drove him to declare - both to himself and others - "I'll figure it out."

    Said Casey: "I was running from a pack of wolves. I knew if I slowed down or stopped, I'd be eaten."

    Thinking of Casey's story and how he described the early part of his journey to find success, I began thinking for the umpteenth time about how life circumstances impact us. It's remarkable how for some it becomes crippling baggage providing a million excuses. For others, like Casey, it's the catalyst that drives them to rise above all the tragedy and despair. That old meme remains true. Hot water makes the egg hard, but it softens the potato. I suppose it's the hot water that shows us what we truly are, but I'm still puzzled about the choices we make - and I do believe we choose what we become, unlike the egg or potato.

    When working with a group in my coaching practice I often deploy a number of strategies to create closer bonds. Trust, vulnerability, safety - these are all critical when we're trying to develop high-performing teams (or groups). Seeing each other as something other than a position or title serves all of us well. At work we rarely are able to show our full humanity, which is a shame because that's where our deepest connections are made.

    It's interesting to watch it happen. A group of people enter a room. They know each other. They have some context for one another. But many of them don't really know each other very well. Over an hour, or two, they begin to see other differently. They understand the past pain, suffering and struggle. We can all relate. Our story specifics may differ, but at a macro level - we're mostly similar.

    It's apparent that we all had many opportunities to decide, will we be an egg or a potato? Will the circumstances of our life - especially the ones we had little control over - harden us or soften us? And will that hardness manifest itself in a resolve to rise above it or will it be a hardness that drives us deeper into excuse-making, and blaming? Will it soften us in ways that cripple us and rob us of the confidence and resolve needed to succeed? Or will it soften us so we can be more compassionate and grow into better humans?

    Choice. Making up our mind.

    Will we hang by the thread with optimism? "Hey, look...I'm still hanging on!" versus "Oh, man. I'm just a thread away from falling."

    Hanging on by a thread is still hanging on.

    • 46 min
    You’ve Got 25 Feet To Save Your Career

    You’ve Got 25 Feet To Save Your Career


    Kenneth Aronoff is a drummer for John Mellencamp. He's also part of a documentary, The Untold Stories Of Your Favorite Musicians. He talks about the early days with Mellencamp when he was asked to come up with a drum solo of sorts for a new song, Jack & Diane.

    When I first heard him say it my mind went into a few different directions.

    One, being good under pressure. Not everybody is. How can we improve that skill?

    Two, being good on your feet. That is, being able to figure it out in real-time, with the clock ticking. Again, how can we hon that ability?

    Three, knowing you're at a pivot point that could (no guarantees) change everything. How can we recognize the importance of this moment?

    Aronoff had enough of all three to handle this moment.

    “It's kind of funny...the moments on which life hinges. I think growing up you always imagine your life--your success--depends on your family and how much money they have, where you go to college, what sort of job you can pin down, starting salary...But it doesn't, you know. You wouldn't believe this, but life hinges on a couple of seconds you never see coming. And what you decide in those few seconds determines everything from then on... And you have no idea what you'll do until you're there...”

    ― Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics (a novel)

    Pessl is a novelist who has crafted some great lines. Truthful lines. This is one of favorites. Life often hinges on a couple of seconds we never see coming. More accurately, it hinges on what we do in that moment. In those seconds. And while you have no idea until you're there, all the things we've done up that moment prepare us.

    I will prepare and some day my chance will come.  - Abraham Lincoln

    That line speaks to our ability and our optimism. The belief that we'll put in the necessary work and in time, we'll get an opportunity.

    I often wonder if we knew in advance of that moment, would it help us or hurt us? Might we live in constant fear and anxiety if we knew? It may be a blessing that when those moments arrive, we had little or no warning.

    In the last episode I talked about how special forces train so when the battle erupts, they react wisely (and well) automatically. So much so, they describe their reactions under fire as "it just happens." That's the value of preparation. It's the value of focus, intensity and dedication to constant improvement.

    It's also the quest to learn what we don't yet know. Ignorance isn't bliss. It can be disastrous when we act based on it. Many dramatic stories prove the point. Mostly, tragedies prove it. Hamlet. Romeo & Juliet. Stories where people lacked knowledge, but took actions based on it. Stories where they had 25 to save themselves, or somebody else...but they got it wrong.

    Tragedy has visited each of us, partly because of actions taken based on our ignorance. We thought something, but without full knowledge, or understanding, we got it wrong. The result was tragic. Maybe not life and death tragic, but some version of tragic none the less.

    25 feet to get it right. Or to get it wrong.

    I began to consider the journey to those 25 feet, wondering how important those feet are. And how we might influence them.

    Reminiscing of my 25-foot-moments I tried to remember what led me there. What happened and how did I get it wrong? Did I get it wrong? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.

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    Practicing It So Much That When The Moment Comes, It Just Happens

    Practicing It So Much That When The Moment Comes, It Just Happens

    On Chris Williamson's Modern Wisdom YouTube show with Tim Kennedy, a Special Forces master sergeant and author, Kennedy was recounting the extensive training of special forces. In the fog of war there is no time to think when bullets start flying. It's all reaction. He details the many micro movements of firing a weapon during a fire fight, emptying the weapon and reloading - all within seconds. It's not a strategic - "I now need to do this" - kind of thing. It's something you've practiced tens of thousands of times. So much that when the moment comes, it just happens.

    It just happens.

    He said you practice it so much, that when the moment comes, it just happens!

    But first, it's a slow, arduous journey of working hard.

    Everything is hard, until it's easy. Everything is slow, until it's fast. 

    This is why most things remain hard to many people. They don't put in the work.

    It's why we remain broke, fat and miserable, too. And why too many of us lack faith, gratitude and compassion.

    Because it's hard work. It's not couch potato work!

    Some weeks ago I mentioned to Lisa Norris, my co-host on the Grow Great podcast (a podcast about city government leadership) that every high-performer I've ever known pursues the hard stuff. They're not complacent. They're all strategic in learning more, growing and adding to their arsenal. I remarked,

    "Everything is hard, until it's easy and high-performer are always chasing the hard stuff."

    Practice doesn't make perfect, but perfect practice does. That's what we've heard for decades. It's absurd though because it presupposes that our work ought to be perfect in practice (when it doesn't matter as much). However, if the saying speaks to the process of practice being perfect (our willingness to put in the work by doing what we must in order to improve), then it's not absurd at all.

    When I heard Tim Kennedy's response I went back to notes I'd been making to myself about preparation (practice). I'm a lifelong fan of preparation. This - and all my podcasts - depict my fandom. I use a broadcast workflow because I'd rather prepare in advance of recording instead of just winging it, then fixing it all in editing after-the-fact. Besides, preparation is where I've found my confidence can be greatly enhanced. And I hate not feeling confident.

    What is confidence? Where does it come from? Where do we have it?

    Long ago I concluded that my confidence isn't singular. There are a few different types of confidence in my life.

    First, there's confidence in God. I'll call it a spiritual confidence. It's based on belief, faith and conviction. It's not an internal faith in myself, but rather it's my inner confidence in something and someone else - something much higher and more powerful than myself. My spiritual confidence is based only on the Bible because it's the only standard I have to inform me about God. Any other confidence based on feelings or intuitions or urges would come from me, not the Bible. That makes them susceptible to being mere delusions so I won't base my spiritual confidence on such things.

    Second, there's confidence in others. This is an external confidence based on my belief and trust in others. It may be based on past history or expected future. I'm confident that our family will help influence my five grandchildren to be successful adults, able to navigate their lives well. Ages 16 to 8, it's yet to be proven, but I have confidence in our family and in these children. Maybe it's an optimism based on the work we're putting in to help train them all. But it's not entirely based on the adults in the family. None of these 5 children have shown an unwillingness to be compliant to learn and improve.

    My confidence in others is based on past behaviors and on my expectations of their capabilities.

    • 46 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
10 Ratings

10 Ratings

meganmosley ,

New listener

I’m new to this podcast, but have been enjoying it immensely! I’ve always been a huge fan of podcast & during my sometimes multi-hour long commutes to work as an interpreter I like having shows that keep my attention, but also help me think critically & learn something - this podcast does just that!

David Jackson ,

Make Me Think - And I'm Your Friend

I have a new routine. I recently moved to a place that has lakes and geese. There is a walking path around the lake, so once dinner is done, and the sun begins to hit the road, I grab my phone and earbuds and head to the lake. It is my time to work on me. To reset my attitude, my outlook, and perspectives on life. It is my time with my friend Randy who makes me think. The music gives me time to consume the last thing Randy just said that has me going Hmmmmmm (and to drown out the Geese who are really beautifully annoying). It not meditation, but it does have me looking inward. So click subscribe, and give it a shot. You'll be glad you did. - Dave Jackson

RNshell ,

Lifetime of knowledge

I've learned so much wisdom from Randy throughout my life; these podcasts do not disappoint. I started listening because I love the man as the elder of the church I attend and want to support him, yet I remain listening because I'm intrigued, interested and invested in what he says.

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