Attention gravitates to extremes. People tend to polarize the world into good or bad. They feel comfortable when they have a choice (more than 1 of anything) and where they can be “right” (where they can say somethings are “good” and other things are “bad”). Everyone likes to call their own shots, myself included.

But the truly “good” and “bad” are the outliers. There’s good and bad in everything. The real question is: “Who’s paying the bill?”. If someone else is paying it’s “good” for me. If I’m paying it’s good for someone else and “bad” for me.

When someone does something that someone else thinks is “bad” for them, they reject the doer. The inverse applies for “good” behaviors. But the “good” and “bad” are outliers. The space between them is vast. And the critic is missing the point.

> You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging. – Brene Brown

Brene Brown has published a lot of engaging work on vulnerability. One talk in particular that has consistently been valuable to me is her talk on shame:

The key take away from her message is that we, as people benefit from disassociating a person’s identity from their behaviors. A person can do bad things and still be a good person (someone who creates value for others). And a bad person can do good things and still be a bad person (someone who takes value from others).

The message that I would like to add to that is that the “good” and “bad” are details of an otherwise compelling and substantive body of work. Focusing on the “good” and “bad” in the moment distracts from the fulfilling and progressive conversation that happens before and after, in and around the individual acts, choices and feelings that affect us within the context of a longer term relationship.

The meaning in work, relationships, love, knowledge through learning and every other kind of achievement is found through **appreciation for the opportunity to participate** in the conversation in the first place.

Too many people get hung up on ego, their identity and how other people and experiences fit with who they think they are as a person. This is the trap. This is what locks people into the same habits, beliefs and reactions day after day after day.

Stop thinking about who you are and **focus on who and what you’re becoming.**

Show appreciation for the people that listen and also for those that take the time to share something thats meaningful to them. You don’t have to agree with it. You don’t have to become it. But you won’t have the opportunity to even know about the next thing if you don’t show your appreciation for this one.

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