Rise of the New Copernicans

I believe we are living in a truly historic moment of human development.

Some sociologists try to capture it by talking about "millennials," but that's too generational. I've also talked about the model of Spiral Dynamics, but that can be western-centric. Both these models catch a glimpse of something big, but they don't tell the whole story. Somehow, modern science, multiculturalism, the Internet, and the blurring of traditional human divisions is altering how people relate to each other.

About a year ago, I joined with friends from the Windrider Institute and the John Templeton Foundation to work on a series of short films describing how human consciousness is changing in our era. I've shared different segments over the last few months–and now I'm thrilled to share the ENTIRE, COMPLETED series with you.

The New Copernicans thesis is based on the work of Dr. John Seel. Huge thanks to my friends John Priddy, Jacob Marshall, and Josh Wiese for their amazing contributions. I hope you find this work insightful and inspiring–-I certainly do.

The New Copernicans

A Quick Note About Email

Hi friends,

I've been blogging for over 10 years, but I've never had an email list until recently. Email is a big deal. People guard their inboxes, and for good reason. Email is still one of the most widely used, valuable forms of human communication.

I set up an email list when so many people asked me about it that it was easier to set one up that it was to explain why I didn't have one. It's been great. A lot of people subscribe everyday, not many unsubscribe, and most people open the emails they get from me. But as my work has grown, I've been plagued by a daily worry: "Am I sending too much email?"

This may strike you as a trivial thing to worry about, but I consider it a privilege that people follow my work at all. The last thing I want to do is saturate people with too many messages or something they aren't interested in. Now that I have a blog, plus podcasts, events, and more, I don't know how to tell who in my audience is interested in what.

So I asked.

I sent an email asking people to fill out a two question survey. Here are the results:

  1. The amount of email you get from me is...
    • just right (92%)
    • too little (4%)
    • too much (4%)
  2. What should I send you? (rounded to the nearest 5%)
    1. Everything you do, but as a once per week email. (40%)
    2. Everything you do, as it happens (30%)
    3. Blog posts and special announcements only (20%)
    4. Ask Science Mike and special announcements only (15%)
    5. Only special announcements. (5%)

This was really helpful information, and thank you to the thousand people who responded! Of course, these answers mean I have to change the way my email lists works. Until today, my email system automatically sends any new blog post that come out every day, ignoring Ask Science Mike completely. That means most weeks, I send one email, but some weeks two or three.

Here's what's new:

Now, the email system will send a weekly email on Thursdays that includes any new blog posts and the latest episode of Ask Science Mike. 40% of the list likes that and I want to err on the side of sending less email.

If you belong to one of the other categories, don't worry. I've set up different groups in my email system and you can pick the messages you want to receive. Just look at the bottom of any email you get from me for this message, "You are in control of how much email you get from me, and how often. Click here to update your email preferences."

I'll send special announcements and local events to everyone, but if you only want to follow my blog, or only follow my podcast, or want to get everything as soon as I release it, you can select that option.

And if you're not on my email list, I'd love to have you. You can join at the bottom of this post.

Peace, love, entropy,
Science Mike

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Do the Work

Lately, people think I've got a plan. They believe I'm executing a carefully crafted playbook. I host two podcasts. I write a blog. I do a lot of interviews and speak at a lot of events. I'm working on a book.

I have no idea what I'm doing.

No one is more surprised by the traction my work is getting than I am. So, when people ask me "How do you find blog readers," or "How can I get more podcast listeners," I don't know what to say. It's as much a mystery to me today as it's ever been.

I don't think anybody knows what they're doing. All the people we think of as successful or influential, as far as I can tell, are mystified at how their work finds an audience.

This mystery is not absolute, because I can track the changes in my life to some specific changes in behavior, and I've noticed these behaviors are common to everyone I know whose work has scale.

1. What you do today beats what you might do tomorrow.

We humans are natural dreamers, and we like to plan out a path that will give us the most reward for the least effort. We work on and refine ideas in our heads endlessly. We imagine our book, or our podcast, or our hit record.

Stop doing that.

There's nothing wrong with dreaming, but people can't hear your dreams. You have to wrestle your dreams from the ether and into form. You have to sit down and type, or record, or sculpt.

You'll hate a lot of what you make. The first fruits will look and smell funny. That's ok. Your failure to produce something you like is exactly what teaches you to make something that you do like.

So dream, dream big, but work on turning those dreams into a work every single day. Don't talk about writing, or read about writing. Write.

2. Make what you need.

Despite all the myriad media options today, there is something you wish existed that does not. Some different sound in music, or some discussion or story. You want to read a story about two computers that fall in love but can't have babies. You want to hear a song that features an accordion/banjo backing tracks.

On a deeper level than taste, what's missing in the world? What story is untold? What downtrodden community needs a hand?

Congratulations, it's your job to make the thing you want. No one else will. You may find that when you build a daily discipline of making things, more ideas come to you. Write them down–you may miss them later.

3. Talk about what you love and what breaks your heart.

Forget marketability. Don't look at the trends. What makes you tick? What wakes you up? What turns you on?

That's what your work should be about. The more specific the better. I love neuroscience and Jesus, so I talk about those things a lot. I like the poetry of cosmology. It doesn't matter how weird it is–the more I love it the more people respond to it.

One of the most popular episodes of The Liturgists Podcast is about an obscure theory of human consciousness. That episode gets passed around like candy, and I've met some amazing people because of it.

4. Give it all you've got.

This is the big one. You have to want it–and I don't mean acclaim, or popularity. You have to need this work to come to life. It has to be life or death. It has to be on your mind as you fall asleep and there when you wake up.

Everyone wants to make an impact, but few are willing to pay the price. I constantly turn down invitations from good friends to do fun things. I don't watch television. I get up early and stay up late.

I do the work. Every day.

That means I miss out on a lot. I have a full time job, and I'm married with kids. So, that means I have to cut almost everything in my life that isn't The Work. I am part of community, and that community fills me with the essential essence I need to keep going.

But, I am 100% committed to The Work. If you call me and want to hang out, I usually can't. I have work to do. I can't relax until I've done the work that day. I give myself the seventh day to rest, but otherwise it's go time.

That doesn't mean I'm busy. Quite the contrary, I've cut almost all the “busy work” from my life. When it's time to work, I unplug. Texts, calls, and emails can wait. Many don't require a response at all. Others need a response: “no.” Getting more done, ironically, actually means doing less. I'm not talking about working yourself into exhaustion, or doing it all. I'm talking about letting go of everything you have to in order to have the time and energy to do the work that matters.

Guess what? There is no more peaceful sleep than the sleep that comes with getting it done. When you know you wrestled ideas from the ether and put them into form, that you are singing your part on the great chorus of life, you sleep like an old dog in front of a fire.

Are you ready to put it out there? To make what you need? To tell the world about what you love, and what breaks your heart? Can you do the work today, and not put it off to tomorrow? Are you willing to give up whatever it takes to make your ideas into real work?

The audience will show up the day you stop caring if they do. Make the work you have to make, and then it will work for you.

If you'd like to get started, read The War of Art. More than anything else, this book taught me how to get the work done.

photo credit: Artist via photopin (license)