Take Your Turn

The Your Turn Challenge was a 7-day blogging challenge inspired by the Your Turn book by Seth Godin. The Challenge ran from Jan 19 – 25, 2015. I was a proud participant. Tumblr even had trouble handling all the submissions! Since I’m not sure if all of mine got through I decided I would post them all together here. Most of them are shorter posts so feel free to let me know what you think of any or all of them! (Note: some of the edits were made in the submission form so you may find some minor typos :) )

Day 1: Why are you doing the Your Turn Challenge?

With the ringing of a shotgun blast the lives of my cousin and her son came to an end.

More than two years later Hayley still inspires me every day. She would make a plan and execute it without hesitation. She wouldn’t complain when obstacles arose, she faced them with with joy and enthusiasm. Everywhere she went she found ways to improve the community around her. You couldn’t help but feel good in her presence.

For many months I tried to walk in her shoes. They were too big in places and too small in others. The laces always came undone and they’d leave blisters on the bottom of my feet. I came to realize I can’t wear her shoes, they don’t fit. To make the world better I have to do it my own way, by leveraging what I love to do not what I think I should love to do. I can’t change it in the same ways she did but that doesn’t mean I can’t make it a better place.

Whether through our action or inaction, we are always shaping the world around us. Every second we can choose whether to contribute to it positively or negatively. Hayley always chose positively and now so do I.

By making life better for those around me, it’s easier for them to make life better for those around them and so on. I want to be an endless supply of tiny, positive ripples. Eventually they’ll become waves.

Day 2: Tell us about something that’s important to you.

Stories.

We are a planet of storytellers.

The story of Karson Braaten isn’t written by just me, but also by anyone I’ve ever interacted with. My best friends story of me will be differ from my mother’s story of me. My story of myself is much longer than your story of me would be. Someone’s opinion of me depends on what stories of me they’ve heard and their interpretation of those stories. I can do my best promote how I want the world to view me but how I’m actually viewed is outside of my control.

We do control the stories we tell about other people. If a company or a person does something we view as wrong, we can spread the word to others. One “unimportant” customer’s story could eventually spread to very powerful customers or reach critical mass and cripple one’s business or reputation. Never underestimate the reach of a story told by one individual. Technology has made stories far easier to spread. By sharing or not sharing we determine the reach and impact a story has.

Be careful though, stories are always missing pieces. A complete story can never be told, there is always more backstory. There is a cause for every cause.

We can control the effect a story has on us. It is our individual reaction and interpretation of a story that changes our emotions, not the story itself. When you feel down and out, you have been telling yourself a story that led you to feel that way. How can you change the story to uplift you?

Life is ultimately an infinite collection of short stories and we’re all the authors and the audience. We choose the stories we consume and the effect they have on us. Focus on stories that bring good to you, and those you care for. Don’t let the others bog you down. You have the power of choice.

Choose carefully.

Day 3: Tell us about something that you think should be improved.

We throwaway too much food. When I was a child at dinner if I were full and there was still food left on my plate my parent’s would tell me to finish it. “It would be a shame to throw it out because there are starving children in Africa that would love to be able to eat so well.” This logic never sat right with me.

It doesn’t make a difference to a child in Africa whether I finish my meal or not. There are people struggling to find food everywhere, including most of the communities we live in, while in our homes and restaurants we continue to throw out what we don’t eat. Overeating to ensure no food goes wasted doesn’t help. Finding something to do with the food we don’t eat so it doesn’t go to waste would. There has to be a better way to dispose of our food.

Day 4: Teach us something that you do well.

I don’t let myself feel stuck. I switch tasks if my progress on something comes to a halt. If I find myself stuck on the next thing I’ll take a break for a quick burst of physical activity. A few minutes of walking, jumping jacks or squats for example. Most breakthroughs I have come after or during physical activity of some sort.

I get unstuck mentally by being unstuck physically.

Day 5: What advice would you give for getting unstuck?

A few tactics to try when you are stuck:

Try something else for a bit then come back to the project you are stuck on. Don’t dwell on being stuck, that only makes it worse. Finish some easier tasks and use that momentum to help complete the task you were currently stuck on.

Perform a quick burst of physical activity. Go for a walk, or squats, or jumping jacks, anything to get your heart beat up a bit. Exercise releases a protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). It makes us feel good! Get unstuck mentally by being unstuck physically.

Those will usually do the trick. Still feel stuck? Here are a couple more tricks:

Talk to someone. No one beside you? I bet your phone is. Make a call. Call someone you haven’t talked to in a couple of years. Explain your problem, sometimes just talking it out to someone allows you to find the solution or another avenue to pursue. Or you could just catch up the person… Surprise your brain. It likes surprises.

Get outside your comfort zone. The best way I know is to do something uncommon. Go ask for 10% off of your next coffee order. Call someone random and ask them on a date. Go ask a random person on a date. The last thing on your mind will be what you feel stuck on.

Do something you enjoy. Sometimes you just need to take a break. Play some video games, watch a television show you enjoy, just get your mind off it for a bit.

Try not to stay stuck on one thing for too long, there is so much good you could be doing elsewhere.

Day 6: Tell us about a time when you surprised yourself.

I’m surprised by how long it has taken me in the past to realize I was in a bad situation and even more surprised by how long it takes me to get out of it.

I deny that little voice in my head telling me I need to make a change; that a person or a job isn’t good for me. Just like an early morning alarm, I hit snooze and do all I can to ignore it.

I start to convince myself that it isn’t so bad and things will get better. The way I think I should be treated begins to degrade. I start to become numb to the situation. Things don’t get better, I just think they are better because I think less of myself. One more day, one more chance, one more pay cheque. Escape is always just one more thing away.

There are about as many reasons for a person becoming successful as there are successful people but I think one thing they have in common is they listen to their gut and let it drive them despite what other people think.

I’m trying to listen better. What I can start doing one day from now, I can start now.

Day 7: What are you taking with you from this Challenge?

I came into this challenge hoping to help people. I wanted exposure. I wanted people to feel compelled to read what I wrote. I wanted someone to tell me I helped make their day better. I didn’t really get these things. I’ve realized I didn’t work towards them though. Instead I found I was working to help myself.

When it comes to finishing something I go around in circles. The last 10-20% of a project usually takes longer for me than the first 80-90%. I want to find that “missing piece” that makes something perfect in my eyes. I’m like a blindfolded child swinging at a piñata on their birthday. A project will always have a spot that can be improved.

I’m proud to be a part of a community of people who took their turn. Who made a commitment to shipping every day. Going forward I’m going to continue to focus on publishing. Sometimes good enough can be great.

I’m proud to have taken my turn.

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