Hi, my name is Clark. I am a musician and entrepreneur. A teacher and a coach. A mystic and, now and again, a peace scientist. (I didn’t know that was a thing either.) I am a father, a son, a brother, a co-parent, and a friend.
If I look closely, I have been shaped almost entirely by those who love me, and by those I love. Sometimes that shaping was intentional. But often not. I have lived long enough to squander great opportunities. And to hurt the ones I love. Not intentionally! I am a walking, talking, singing bundle of mostly unintended consequences. Somehow, here I am.
Along the way, I have learned a few things that cleared the way for Thrive Circle:
1. Knowledge, without practice, is powerless.
Knowing a thing in my head is not the same as knowing it in my bones. The weeds of my self- deception take root in the soil of “I already know that.” When I preach but do not practice, I create cynicism all around me. My practice quotient (PQ) matters as much or more than my IQ or EQ. To keep practicing, I need to hold on to my sense of wonder, my “beginner mind.” Asking myself open-ended, challenging questions (what we call “Sacred Questions” at Thrive) helps to maintain that sense of wonder.
2. Walk the pathless path of practice
A path is a way that works. Or has worked for someone else. But will it work for me? With my life as it is, my pattern as it is. And if I make it work for me, will it still work? Maybe not. Which makes the path pathless. To change one habit (“going to the gym each day”), I may need to change ten tiny habits that reinforce it. It takes courage and creativity, presence and patience, to feel my way through tiny changes on my pathless path. The point is not to complete the path but to be changed by the path. To live the questions. To let outward challenges create inward change.
3. Lose the path, begin again
My life is filled with responsibilities. And with distractions. And sometimes it’s not clear which is which. Even on the things that matter most, my intentionality comes and goes, ebbs and flows. When
I notice I have wandered off the path, there is dignity in gently coming back to it. Remembering an intention that I’d forgotten. Picking up where I left off. It’s a gift to notice that I’ve wandered. It’s a gift to be able to come back. Hundreds or even thousands of times. These are moments of tiny redemption in life - and a world - full of distractions.
4. Share the path with friends
I thrive with some help from my friends. My friends inspire me. They have given me a messy mix of honesty and kindness over thousands of conversations. The messy mix makes me better.
As I learn to be a better friend to myself, I become
a better friend to others. As I learn to be a better friend to others, I become a better friend to myself. Healthy friendships teach me kindness, gratitude, and grit.
These are a few of the things that have shaped the approach I take at Thrive Circle.
I have built Thrive Circle with the help of many friends, walking the pathless path together.
The first among them is Liam Brady, my co-founder,
and the Chief Creative Officer.
In some shape or form, Liam and I have been creating together for more than 20 years. Liam and I met at Stanford University and first worked together as camp counselors in Lake Tahoe in 2002, where we co-created comedic sketches for Friday night variety shows. During 2008 and 2009, we were roommates in a tiny apartment at 5th and Ave B in New York City. I taught in the Economics Department and Liam went to film school, both at NYU. Ten years later, Liam helped me make some (very) short films about my research. In late 2019, Liam began to help me develop and refine the practices that would become Thrive Circle. I trust his eye for beauty, his ear for truth, and his kind, honest heart. And his hustle in Premiere Pro, XD, and Figma. I wouldn’t be here without you, Liam.
As a designer, Deb Guarneros has found ways to make the complex simple and intuitive. As developers, Martin Anev, Martin Doychev, and Angel Venchev have done the work to bring the designs to life. And then revise them again and again. As testers, Toza Pavlovic and Dany Stecova have helped me see clearly what we have built, and ensure it is fit for its purpose.
My friend Ben composed the music for the audio reflections that introduce each Thrive question. My friends Sonny, Calvin, Conor, Damian, Lucien, Javier, Chris, Doug, Ryan, Lisa, Laura, Clay, Josh, Griff, Gary, Laurel, Dean, and Kristin have offered their invaluable time and treasure, to make the product better along the way. My brother John has offered wise counsel at many stages of the process.
Together we’ve built Thrive Circle into something special. Something that makes it easier to transform daily challenges into the skills of the spirit.
May it keep you on your path: patient and courageous, grateful and wise, creative and kind.
Thomas Clark Durant