Friday, May 01, 2009

The OSI Interview: Jonathan Mead

Jonathan Mead is a prolific writer on the topic of self development and living authentically. He writes about "the less boring side" of life at his blog, Illuminated Mind, and is also a regular contributor on the popular blog, Zen Habits.

Since a young age, Jonathan lost his tolerance for doing things that he doesn't care about. He's on a mission to escape from cubicle hell, and reclaim his dreams. His purpose is to help other people liberate themselves from fluorescent lighting and start living deliberately. He recently published an ebook on this topic called Reclaim Your Dreams - An Uncommon Guide to Living on Your Own Terms.

Jonathan is also a drummer, idea pusher, polymath, mad scientist, husband and essential renegade. He's currently researching how to get paid to exist.

1. In the context of your work, which bits of minutiae matter most?

Every time I sit down to write I'm either subconsciously or consciously thinking these two questions "Do I really care about this?" and "Will other people care about this?"

My aim is always to bring clarity and awareness to topics that are important. I know that I can write about certain things that are controversial or popular, that will gain a lot of attention. But if I'm not being authentic, it will be hollow. People can see through that and the way you connect is by real.

2. Which bits matter least?

I would have to say following the rules. There are a lot of "unspoken rules" in the blogging and self-development world, that don't make sense to me. For example, a lot of people will say to post 3-5 times a week to create a successful blog. I do exactly the opposite, because I only write when I have something worth saying. Some of the biggest gains I've had in readership is when I only posted twice a month.

So I would say that's the first one. The second would have to be obsessing about everything being perfect. When you get caught up in "the cult of productivity" you tend to not be satisfied unless everything is done, completely organized and in order. But the truth is, life is a giant, beautiful mess. There are no square boxes and straight lines in nature. So instead of resisting, I try to embrace the mess. I try to give up trying to control everything.

3. In the context of your life, what types of minutiae once seemed important, but have since fallen by the wayside? Why?

Trying to live up to an image of what I thought I should be, but was not. We all tend to have this idea in our heads about what we think we should be, what kind of self we should become in order to really accept ourselves.

My quest to be authentic has led me to develop a sort of filter of when I'm really being true to myself, as opposed to when I'm chasing something just because it's a "good idea."

4. What types of minutiae, if any, have you had to train yourself to pay closer attention to?

The little things in life. It's amazing when you really just slow down and allow space to come into your life, how beautiful things become. Something as simple as leaves blowing in the wind across the pavement, can be so beautiful. Just the feeling of being can be something amazing, if you simply slow down.

5. Just for kicks -- what are your favorite bits of minutiae (personal, from a book, a piece of music, moment in a movie, etc.)?

I've been seriously obsessed with Bruce Lee lately. One of my favorite quotes from him is "If you always place limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, they will seep into your work and your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus; and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them."

Every time I see myself pushing up against beliefs that don't serve me or imaginary walls around what I can and can't do, I ask myself "Am I limiting myself? Is this feeling valid, or is it simply an arbitrary limit I've unnecessarily placed on myself?"

It's amazing how often the answer turns out to be the latter.

Thank you, Jonathan!