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Day 74 - The Authenticity of Experience

We have never been more connected to the world around us, to information, to convenience than we are now as a society. It makes us more able to obtain information, allows us to disrupt old models of doing business and to connect with people over vast geographic distances quickly and easily. It is also one of the things that has led to the erosion of experience and authenticity, that self-same convenience leads us to expect things quickly. The things that take time we have spent years looking away from, trying to find faster alternative for are coming back. Print books, vinyl records, full service coffee shops, talks and connections are all returning. We long for things that are authentic, real, carrying their own stories from both the good and the bad, and so we seek them out. Today I spent an authentic moment with Jackson Haskell, in a garden by his home, tucked into one of the many magical grottos of downtown Charleston.

Authentic is a word that would truly and accurately describe Jackson. It's something his life is full of, not the impression of perfection, but the pursuit of being better a little day-by-day. He feels Charleston in a visceral sense. Sitting in this garden, it is clear how much he loves this place, the nature and the sense of history that comes with it. He and his fiance' live in an old building, once a mortuary, one of the historic buildings that Charleston is so known for. He tells me the history of the place, of the Masonic influence, of the roles the various buildings played in the former life this place had as a funeral home. He knows each detail, he loves each crack in the stone, each plant in the garden, you can feel it. He also fears for what will happen to this place as the city grows and modernizes, wondering what will be left of the real spaces when the massive hotels move in. Jackson's mind is sharp, he is always taking things in. He's incredibly perceptive and a phenomenal communicator and he constantly seeks wonder in the world.

We talk about change, about how it takes something so simple to change who you are, the course of your life or the direction of an organization. Change is rarely accomplished via grand strategy, but is usually the result of small changes that hold great meaning and so carry great impact. He tells me about his fasting practice, limiting his eating to only a set amount of hours in the day, and how he has fixed so many problems he had through this technique. He also tells me about listening to audiobooks on his drives instead of music. I do this too and I love all of the information I am able to take in as a result. These changes were simple, the adjustment of small habits, one simple thing that changes everything. As you change one simple thing, you understand how easy it is to change another, then another and then you see the greater impact.

Jackson and I talk about how dangerous a small bit of information can be, how we feel that after an artible or two we know and understand a complex problem. It's beyond the simple tribalism. This also takes our attention away form the things that impact us closer to home. We watch big circuses, contribute our commentary, feel complete, and move on to od the same things we have always done. To Jackson this is sad. He looks at a city that is beautiful and changing, and wonders if we will ever look here to fix things. He still sees opportunity, a group of people embracing experience, using technology to make meaningful change and dedicating themselves to improving.

Maybe that's what is most fascinating about Jackson, the fact that he does not view himself as perfect, but rather a work in progress. Where he has mastered on thing, he seeks to master another part. These are not just skills you and I would think about as such, these are also things in life. Jackson has learned to say yes when people offer an adventure, now he is learning to be the one offering. It's something we could all learn from. Taking some time to be authentic and to embrace experience, even one as simple as asking someone else on an adventure.

Favorite Dinosayr: Pterodactyk

Why: He read about one that had a 30 foot wingspan. It's the most incredible and terrifying thing he could imagine.

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