Let tension be your teacher.

Being drawn into conflict requires that we reframe fear.

The antidote for fear is self-confidence. It's knowing you can never fail because failure is subjective. Anything subjective is left open to interpretation.

The question to ask that pulls the thread is "What would you do if you know you couldn't fail?"

The fear of success is actually fear of being judged, measured, criticized, and ultimately canceled. To many, the idea of being canceled, to be told we are irrelevant, to have our entire lives nullified is the greatest fear of all.

Failure is a mental construct. It can only be validated by metrics which are completely subjective. I can make any success a failure depending on what I measure it against.

Goal: Discover positive tension. To turn tension (negative) into anticipation (positive).

There's a tension what exists between the done and undone. Between the idea and the realization of that idea. Tension drives action. It moves us to learn what we need to learn and overcome the obstacles that need to be won. To relieve tension, we must act.

Tension is negative

The tension of an event can be as devastating (often more so) than the event itself.

Anticipation is positive

The anticipation of an event can be as joyful (or even more joyful) than the event itself.


Example: A bill is due on 3/31. Tension results when we believe that we'll be unable to pay it. We give up, we feel a victim, we made a poor decision, we are helpless. Tension stems from uncertainty

Anticipation results from knowing you will do whatever it takes to pay it. That 'whatever it takes' will pull you out of your comfort zone. Anticipation stems from confidence.

The more often we succeed, the more confidence we breed.

Example: Meeting someone new.

You can be excited to meet them and anticipate a good meeting. Or you can tense and worry. It's your attitude that makes the difference. Worry is often rooted in our obsession with what others think about us.

Procrastinators avoid deadlines. Activators seek them out.

Anticipation and readiness.

Teach something new

When I teach a class I feel prepared to teach, I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to teach the lesson. On the contrary, going into a topic I feel ill-prepared to teach, I tense up. What's interesting, however is anytime I teach something new, there's a level of tension. It's not until I've taught something a few times that I shift from tension into anticipation. From uncertainty to confidence.

It's the expected outcome that makes the difference. The first time we do something, we will more than likely fail at it. You simply can't anticipate how it will you put it out there.

Expectations, whether they are good or bad, predispose you one way or another.

Let go of expectations and all of life becomes an unexpected surprise!

The worst is expecting others to respond in a particular way. How others respond is not within your control.

Unresolved Tension

Tension seeks resolution. Tension is a source of energy. The more tension, the greater the energy within it. Tension itself creates the need to act. It's as simple as stating something untrue. Once it's been written, there's tension to either prove it is true or call out the untrue.

The nightly news thrives on tension. Controversy is tension and the media thrives on it. Trump thrives on tension. The moment he tweets something, he incites debate. Controversy seems to validate his existence. Tension reveals significance.

Conflicting priorities

Many of us take on more than we can handle. As a result, our days are full of tension due to conflicting priorities over the time and resources available. When I reach a point of saturation, I return to my mantra 'I will spend less time with more of you so I can spend more time with less of you.' I look at my growing list of todos and block out time. I stop adding to it!

More often than not, what gets me out of bed at 4 in the morning is to write down unrealized ideas. My brain is bursting with epiphanies and I feel this deep need to 'return with the elixir.'

"Once the hero's transformation is complete, he or she returns to the ordinary world with the elixir, a great treasure or a new understanding to share. This can be love, wisdom, freedom, or knowledge." - Christopher Vogler in "The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure

I feel a need resolve unfinished work. It's the often the anticipation of an event reflected in a deadline.

I think this is why deadlines are so effective to driving action. 10/30/100 day goals work for me.

From the moment a client pays for a project, the clock starts. My unspoken commitment is provide results within 10 days or less.

Tension also demands more energy. While anticipation gives us energy, tension takes it.

At the onset of a project (or a life), we have anticipation. The closer we get to the completion, the more tense we become (often due to unrealized potential or lack of results).

It's the space between the complete & incomplete that shows up as either tension or anticipation.

Collectively, when we have anticipation for something (often the season finale of a popular show), it often fails to live up to the expectations we have.


Anticipation is the act of looking forward with pleasurable expectation.

Tension is a state of hostility or opposition between individuals or groups.

America once had an abundance of anticipation. Today it seems much of that anticipation has turned into tension of an uncertain future.

Tension feeds on uncertainty. Anticipation feeds on confidence.

Tension is omnipresent

A subtle sense of tension always present. From the start, tension is created between what is and what isn't.

Tension is unrealized potential

There’s nothing wrong with tension and stress. We turn it into an adversary when we judge it as unjust. Is stress a problem we’ll ever solve? Rest assured, there will always plenty to be stressed out about. It’s an irritation that annoys us until it is resolved. 

We feel a need to do something about it. But there’s tension in trying to relieve the tension. I contend there’s nothing inherently wrong with tension or stress. As Shakespeare famously wrote in Hamlet ‘Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’ Credit to my friend Brendan Kelso for reminding me of this.

Yin & Yang: Peace requires tension. Ease requires unease. What is unwritten drives me to write. What is unspoken drives me to speak.

Do you see the world as tension with a sliver of peace, or as peace with a sliver of tension?

My purpose is to resolve tension in my life, but I know the reality that I never will. Tension is omnipresent. The only time I will truly be free of tension is when it's over.

Tension is the gap between what you want and what you have. Between where you are and where you want to be. The bigger the gap, the greater the level of tension. To resolve the tension, it’s a matter of getting what you want or removing the want all together.

Too much tension and the structure crumbles under it's stress.

Nature is under great tension. It's resources are stretched thin and we are seeing signs of system failure. Do we continue loading more on to an already fragile system or do we back off?

Or can we find ways to contribute to the system?

Tension is structural.

Resistance. Force. Pressure. Stress. Unease.

The deal goes live at 7AM. There is a limited quantity available. They will sell out. It's this tension that's created a level of hyper focus. Once we have it, the tension is released. We can get focus on something else, and there's a sense of accomplishment that briefly lingers.

Tension is unrealized potential.

It's the tension that exists between the done and undone. Between the idea and the realization of that idea. Tension drives action. It moves us to learn what we need to learn and overcome the obstacles that need to be won. Win the wars that need to be won. To relieve tension, we must act.

Yin & Yang

Ease requires unease. Peace requires tension. What is unwritten drives to write. What is unspoken drives us to speak. All action requires in action to be recognized as such. Dark requires light and light requires dark. To exist is to recognize non-existence. Meaning requires meaningless

One can't exist without the other.

Despair requires joy. The opposite of faith is despair.

Opposites exist to validate each other.

We can not have life without death. We can not have pleasure without pain.

They are all part of life.

A solution requires a problem.

If we see ourselves as the solution, then we will find a problem. If a problem doesn't exist, we'll create one. Why? Because we need to be the solution.

But it doesn't have to be that way.

Life itself is in a state of tension with death. To act is to avoid inaction.

To define the significance of a life is to judge the insignificance of one.

The meaning of everything

The point of a life is up to the creator. We inject meaning into what is otherwise meaningless.

It begins the moment we realize that something needs to be done (or undone).

We will never be fully self-actualized because an aspect of self-actualization is indefinite and ever expanding improvement. The structure of who we are is indefinite and there will always be unresolved tension.

Your full potential will never be realized because potential by definition is indefinite.

The cost of inaction

It often costs more to do nothing than to do something.

When you see something, do something about it. It's the opportunity to stand up for what you believe. To discover something new. For what you know is right. For what matters.

Grow a spine! Stand up for yourself.

The first indication was when you got angry with yourself.

One culprit is that you are may be pursuing too many options. In trying to keep your options open, you're falling short.

We can only pursue one path at a time. Trying to be in two places is only going to create friction and frustration. Stop trying to keep your options open and you'll find more options open up. Stop pursuing so many paths. Dedicate yourself to the one you're ready for now. You think you can do it all, but you can't.

Is your life one cliff hanger after another?

A good author creates tension by using creative cliff hangers at the end of each chapter. No bookmarks allowed. When the book is good enough that the reader can't put it down.

Is it then any surprise that we create cliff hangers in our own reality? We want our story to be exciting, don't we? is created in fiction by by cliff hangers create. It's unfinished projects. Open loops. It's what causes the itch when everything is perfect as it is, tension arrives in the form of unresolved issues. You can resolve them by assigning them in place and time. By time blocks. My book is tension because it isn't done.


There is always a beginning, middle, and end. The end is complete. Everything else is incomplete.

What can you complete today? In the next hour?

I feel a sense of completion when...

At the end of every completion, there is a new beginning. I finish the milk, now milk is on the shopping list. The milk on the shopping list is unfinished until it's in my fridge.

The power of an unchecked check box.

Utilize the +1 method to get more done and have more fun.

Unmet needs

Are all your needs met? Right here, right now, in this moment? Revisit peace. It's the one thing that is always avialable to you - right?

When you begin reading a book, there tension until you complete it or decide to skip it.

I contend that your needs were met the moment you were born. Everything else is supplemental. The wealthy man is not he who has the most, it is he who needs the least. When you can truly appreciate all you have, be content and complete with all that is... that is when you discover you've had everything you need all along. You always will be complete. You are complete in this moment. Peace follows complete. There is much unrest in the incomplete.

Time is never complete.

CTA: Print and consolidate your undone's. Go through each item, one by one, and decide: * Trash it * Pass it on * Schedule it (or take action on it) * Quarantine it

Give everything an expiration date, break the list into chunks. Give each chunk an expiration. You can probably delay with 10 at a time. Give 'em an expiration date in 10 days. Either do something on them in 10 days or they will move into quarantine.

Become a docent for action.

A docent is a guide. There are docents for nearly every discipline:

A docent is someone who knows enough about a topic, place, or thing to describe what already is. To point out what's worth pointing out. To highlight the importance of something related to ____.

Prioritize what needs to be done next based on upcoming deadlines (often tied to events).

Tension Tamer

Is tension a call from the brain in the belly?

Tension is good - it's an indicator of an unresolved desire. From this moment on, don't ask why. Just know that your higher self created the desire because it knew why.

I've spent the majority of my life asking why. And it's gotten me nowhere! It wasn't until I stopped asking why and just trusted that there was an itch that needed to be resolved by fulfilling the desire - or in some cases, letting that desire go if it felt right.

Tension has become a feel good emotion for me - as I've discovered a peace with the struggle caused by the tension. In that I am lucky to apply (& test) my prior experience (lessons learned from my past) to ease tension.

There's nothing wrong with tension and stress. What's wrong is when we make it wrong based on judgement it should be any other way. It becomes a problem to solve. An irritation and we get annoyed until it is resolved. We feel a need to do something about it. There's tension in trying to relieve the tension! The secret is to let go of your judgement about it. There is nothing wrong with tension or stress. Yes, it exists. But as Shakespeare famously wrote in Hamlet 'Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.'

Do we unnecessarily suffer through many circumstances in life due to a judgement of how things should be?

The beauty of desire is that it gives us purpose. Unfulfilled desires are a source of discontentment. But as long as we are making progress towards closing that gap - despite not always knowing how big it is... No matter what, we are happier when we are moving along the path we know our desire has set us on.

Time is simply a piece of the puzzle that we must accept as an aspect the path we are on. We want everything right now, and we don't want to work for it. But our higher selves knows that it's time that keeps us in check. If it weren't for time, and we got everything we wanted, when we wanted, we'd be bored with life and cease to find any purpose.

Perhaps we are all searching for something that doesn't exist. Something our parents and society with their best intentions tried to instill in us - a belief that you can be at complete peace when you are successful. But there will always be tension. As long as you live, there will be more potential for you to realize.

Perhaps - no matter how hard we try, a level of discomfort will always exist - as we will can never reach total contentment (at least not for long), as it is our nature as human beings is to extend our experience in this life, and the result is an ongoing sense of tensions to ease. Check out Maslow's hierarchy - our potential is never fully realized. The harder it gets, the harder I will work to overcome it.

Every experience (whether a setback or a step forward) is progress towards resolution of an unresolved desired result, assuming we know what that result is. Our will to resolve tension caused by the gap between where we are and where we want to be, gets stronger the closer that we get to resolution. Motivation starts small but grows as we gain clarity on the path we are on. As long as we are aware of our true intention, aware of our current position (in related to the ultimate destination/result we seek) --- which is the true source of our tension, we can rest well knowing we are making progress.

Willpower is sure to be fueled by the realization of this fundamental truth. Remember this: Success is just beyond the point when most people quick. The reality is you don't know when the result you seek will come - just trust it will come in perfect time.

The solution is well within your grasp - you simply must come back to the challenge to overcome what's important in this moment that leads you closer to your ideal self. The trick is to hold on to the focus an attention long enough to allow it to be resolved. And it's perfectly fine to let it go if the resolution doesn't bring you happiness or bring you closer to your higher self and ultimate goal.

The answer to resolve tension is to either change where you ARE or to change where you want to BE. It's simply a matter of closing the gap between what you want and what you have. If you can't get what you want, than change what you want to ease that tension... For as long as you are far from your desire, there will be tension - so to be successful, you must learn to enjoy that tension - ride it like a wave. Those who are happy have what they want. Don't know what you want? Ahh, that's just another case to resolve. Resolve it by closing the gap between where you are (not knowing what you want) to where you want to be (knowing what you want). And you do that one step at a time. But do the work!

Getting what you want is simply a matter of closing the gap between what you have and what you want. There are two ways to do it: either do the things to get you closer to what you want, our bring the want closer to what you have.


Your purpose is to resolve tension in your life. Tension is the gap between what you want and what you have. Or between where you are and where you want to be. The bigger the gap, the greater the level of tension. To resolve the tension, it's a matter of getting what you want or removing the want all together.

Getting what you want is simply a matter of closing the gap between what you have and what you want. Q: It is really what you want or only what you think you want? If you don't really want it - let it go. But if you do - then commit now.

I believe it's small minority that truly know, with all their heart, exactly what they want. But these are the same people that we see achieve the greatest in our culture. Most of us are looking for someone to tell us what we want. Or we just aren't being clear to ourselves or others of what it is we want. It's much easier to blame them when we don't get what we want, if they told us what we want... isn't it?

But here's a bit of good news - you need only decide on two paths: (1) Commit to either do the things to get you closer to what you want, our bring the want closer to what you have (but never settle on what you don't want). Or (2) remove the want all together and let it go.

As long as we are moving towards the resolution of what we want, then we should be content with our thoughts and actions. And accept that there will be others who don't hold the same wants for us as we do - that's just a new form of tension and part of the game of life. For the only thing we have to do is what we want to do. And what we want to do is rooted in the realization of a worthy goal.

Resolve to realize the worthy goal.

Resolve to close all the open cases in your life by...

A. Commit - and makes space for the actions that bring you closer to the result while at the same time, considering bring the result closer to what you have (in many cases, it's a matter of making the best use of what you have right now)

B. Let it go - stop beating yourself up - if your gut's not in it - let it go and focus on your Commits (A). The more you let go, the more space you'll have for the things that actually matter (A).

If it's an unresolvable case... Resolve today to not open any more cases until you resolve the ones that are open (& unresolved).

Tension, Stress, Discomfort? Bring it on! Each time it appears is an opportunity to practice seeing it objectively.

Further Reading