If you have every worked with me you might have heard that phrase more times than you would like to admit. I do have an idea and this blog is about me sharing and hopefully, you my readers giving me some feedback or insight into my concept.
Earlier this year Tod invited me to join him for lunch with one of his former donors from his days at UCLA. Jumping at the chance to spend an afternoon in Santa Monica, he didn’t have to ask me twice and we were off on a much-needed Covid era adventure. Sitting in a little Italian restaurant, one of only two tables of guests, little did I know god was sending me a memory. The guest of honor walked in and the first thing I said to Tod was “you didn’t tell me we were meeting Alan Arkin.” No, it wasn’t the award-winning actor, but an extraordinary presence none the less.
Over the course of lunch, the conversation led me back to my days dining with George and the many tales he would share about his life. There was something about this soon to be 90-year-old man that made the afternoon go from just a meal to a much-needed, standing still of time where we sat memorized by the conversation. From stories of his parent’s immigration to the United States to the many avenues he developed in the textile industry, I just sat there absorbing his words like a sponge. No ego or bragging, although his accomplishments would support such behavior. He had a sense of inner peace, no need for hurry, accomplishment or proving his worth.
As we drove home I started to think “how does one become so comfortable in their own skin?” Continuing to toss this around in my mind it wasn’t until we sat at the race track one day this summer that the conversation stemmed into a discussion about contentment. A light bulb went on in my head, the trait that I used felt from George to our most recent lunch guest, was contentment. But how does one stop the chase in our lives and be settled in their minds. Is it time, life experiences, part of your DNA, learned or something that I haven’t even considered? And that is when I got my idea.
Could I solve this question with some investigation work? Perhaps if I interviewed a variety of people and somehow take this qualitative, case study approach and turn it into a quantitative result with a measured solution? Always struggling with the tug of war in my mind of letting my creative side run free while allowing my logical, analytical self to take the results and sort it nicely in a spreadsheet with the correct answer. But this idea keeps pushing to front of my mind and I think it has some legs.
Feeling the need for validation, I reached out to Beth Wonson, a person who I not only admire for what she has accomplished but because she will listen to you (I mean really listen) and give you honest feedback. Trust me when I approached her with my idea I was beyond clumsy with my words, as my concept is like a giant brainstorming session gone wild with no starting point. Yet in true Beth form she was attentive as I rambled on and on. At the end she said I think you have something and gave me some tools to get the ball rolling. So here it goes.
My concept is to interview a person (preferably all recorded) and have basic questions that would spur organic conversation. Collect the feedback and look for commonalities, then sort the dialogue into like classifications. What am I trying to achieve? First off, I want to see if there are shared traits in content people. Then I want to determine where the origin of these characteristics begin. Basic concept of nature versus nurture with a twist. Finally, this process could be the white whale I have been hunting for years as a great writing project.
What do I need from you my readers? Well for starters do you think this is a crazy idea? What would you look for in a dialog candidate? Currently my criteria to qualify is simple; are you generally a happy person (truthfully) and are you or could you ever be content? Curiosity of how life is shaped by our choices and the perception we hold of ourselves are areas I would like to explore. My methodology is wide open, but some simple questions seems to be the best place to start. How about sharing some probing questions that you think could help in this examination? As I was working on this blog, I pulled a Trust Your Crazy Idea card and the message began “The good news is you don’t know how great you can be!” With your help and feedback, my hope is that is the beginning of a lifelong project that teaches all of us something that bridges that need for accomplishment with a sense of contentment.
(Feel free to message me privately or leave feedback on my blog or social media page. Please share this thought with others that may have valuable insight. I greatly appreciate any and all.)