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Big choices vs small choices

Michael McGirr’s book & my doppio order…

What sort of choice is that?

“Too much choice undermines real freedom.
You start believing that your choice of coffee
is what makes you different.”

Michael McGirr, Ideas to Save Your Life

It turns out my identity is more entangled in my coffee choice than I’d realized.

I’m a doppio sort of guy: a double espresso, no milk, no sugar, no fussing, just good crema and that dark chocolate taste. You may not have realized that this indicates my European-esque sophistication, my writer’s temperament, a certain Mediterranean handsomeness, and my general love of la dolce vitae. You did pick up all of that signaling, right?

McGirr’s quote has me thinking of the balance in our choices between those that confirm past choices about who we are (“doppio, please”), and those that disrupt that sense of familiarity and that might unlock the next version of you..

It’s why I wrestle with the idea of “being authentic.” That can presume there’s some essential quality that’s there to be uncovered, the true You-ness of you. Chipping away at the marble to find the angel within. 

But we’re not a Michelangelo statue; we’re evolving human beings. And putting aside psychology for a moment,  even biologically, the idea of authenticity doesn’t work. I heard on this podcast the startling fact that there are only enough human cells in you to constitute just one of your legs. The rest of you is … all sorts of stuff; parasites mostly. (I KNOW!)

How to Begin is built out from this phrase:: we unlock our greatness by working on the hard things. You can, of course, stick to familiar coffee choices. (That’s what I plan to do).

But if you’re looking to keep growing and evolving, you want to be making choices that nudge you towards the intriguing edges of your known self.

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Michael Bungay Stanier

Michael Bungay Stanier

I'm the author of five books that have collectively sold more than a million copies. I'm the founder of Box of Crayons, a learning and development company that helps organizations move from advice-driven to curiosity-led. I'm the host of the *2 Pages with MBS* podcast.