Living Life from the Inside Out, and Questions for Crucial Moments

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - 7:00 pm

Living Life from the Inside Out, and Questions for Crucial Moments

As you read this week’s Letter from Loring Park, I’ll be participating in’s CEO Bootcamp, a space where I’ll be doing my best to cultivate my own personal awareness as a cofounder of On Being and Krista Tippett Public Productions.
Krista and I launched our new organization nearly three years ago, now. (Wow!) During that time, our work and our team has evolved and grown in many splendid ways. Sometimes such journeys come with little chance for oxygenated breathing. I’m hoping I can turn this race into a pilgrimage, allowing for more reflective moments and a chance to reorient — for being the leader I want to be and the man I want to become.
So, in this spirit, I leave you with two marvelous assets for your own reflection…

Last May, Parker Palmer was awarded an honorary doctorate from Naropa University. His commencement address calls us to live our lives from the inside out, offering us six ideas about how to live a meaningful life. His fifth suggestion seems most appropriate to take in at this juncture:

“Since suffering as well as joy comes with being human, I urge you to remember this: Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering. Sometimes we aim that violence at ourselves — as in overwork that leads to burnout and worse, or in the many forms of substance abuse. Sometimes we aim that violence at other people; racism, sexism, and homophobia often come from people trying to relieve their suffering by claiming superiority over others.

The good news is that suffering can be transformed into something that brings life, not death. It happens every day. I know many people who’ve suffered the loss of the dearest person in their lives. At first, they go into deep grief, certain that their lives will never again be worth living. But then they slowly awaken to the fact that — not in spite of their loss but because of it — they’ve become bigger, more compassionate people, with more capacity of heart to take in other people’s sorrows and joys.

These are broken-hearted people, but their hearts have been broken open rather than broken apart. So, every day, exercise your heart by taking in life’s pains and joys. That kind of exercise will make your heart supple, so that when it breaks — which it surely will — it will break not into a fragment grenade, but into a greater capacity for love.”

Five questions for finding grace under pressure.

A former CEO and mentor of the designer and thought leader John Maeda gave him this wallet-sized clipping pertaining to grace under pressure. Listed are five questions developed by psychologist Donald A. Laird to measure a person’s leadership potential. For me, these are five questions about poise, which we can ask ourselves in so many other facets of our lives outside of work:

  • Can you take a reprimand without blowing up?
  • Can you take a turndown without becoming discouraged?
  • Can you laugh with others when the joke is on you?
  • Can you keep your spirits up when things go wrong?
  • Can you keep your cool in emergencies?
  • Can one master all of these questions? I’m unsure, but I’m aware that being honest with oneself and asking these questions in critical moments is a good step in living a life from the inside out.
    Next week, I’ll return with a fuller set of delectable content. Until then, please feel free to contact me with any advice, criticism, feedback at, or via Twitter at @trentgilliss. I gladly welcome it!
    May the wind always be at your back.

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    is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as publisher & editor-in-chief. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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