Rules are a necessity. Without rules there is chaos. But when rules are becoming too rigid it can create another type of chaos also known as tyranny. Knowing when to follow the rules and when to break them (without turning yourself into a wanted criminal) is a tall order but I have decided to tackle this subject, nonetheless.
Our whole life and existence are based on rules that we have to follow. The country we live in has a set of rules that every citizen must follow. The school where our children go has various rules. As parents, we have a set of rules in our home. Friendship and love, too, come with a bunch of rules. Rules help in bringing order to society.
When I am talking about rules and breaking the rules, I am also talking about order and chaos and the necessity to balance conservative and creative attitudes. Rules are created to protect the status quo – not to spur innovation. People in power establish rules, and those people have a vested interest in staying in power, by creating more and more rules to the point of suffocation. Two years ago, people couldn’t leave their homes without permission from some authorities. Two years ago new rules prevented extended family members to gather around a table to have a meal together.
When to follow the rules and when the break them – An existential dilemma
Limitations, constraints, boundaries, and rules ensure social harmony and psychological stability. According to Jordan Peterson, we should follow the rules except when doing so undermines the purpose of those rules. We should follow the rules until we are capable of being a shining example of what they represent but break them when those very rules hinder the spirit of why those rules were put in place in the first place. We should respect the rules except when following those rules means disregarding or ignoring or remaining blind to an even higher moral principle.
We should all try our best to understand the rules, their necessity, their sacredness, the chaos they keep at bay, how they unite the community that follows them, the price paid for their establishment, and the danger of breaking them. But we should also be willing to fully shoulder the responsibility of making an exception when this serves a higher good, an elevated moral act.
Learn rules like a pro, so that you can break them like an artist.
There is an existential dilemma that eternally characterizes human life. It is necessary to conform, to be disciplined and to follow the rules, to do humbly what others do, but it is also necessary to use judgment, vision, and truth to tell what is right when the rules suggest otherwise.
The conservative and the creative attitudes have to be balanced, both have a role in society. The conservative type carefully implements processes that have been tried and tested over time in order to produce stability and value. The creative liberal type has the ability to pinpoint how what is old and out of date could be replaced by something new and more valuable.
The balance between conservatism and originality might therefore be properly struck by bringing the two types together. Conscious wisdom is to recognize that conservatism is good (with a set of associated dangers) and creative transformation is also good (with a set of associated dangers). It is critical to be able to recognize when the balance has swung too far in one direction.
Alongside the wisdom of true conservatism is the danger that the status quo might become too rigid and a bit outdated. Alongside the brilliance of creative endeavor is the false heroism of the resentful ideologue blinded by their ideology and set in their own righteousness.
Intelligent and cautious conservatism mixed with a creative liberal attitude keeps the world in order. A certain number of arbitrary rules must be tolerated to keep the world and its inhabitants together. A certain amount of creativity and rebellion must be tolerated to maintain the regeneration process. Every rule was once a creative act, breaking other rules.
So, when to follow the rules and when to break them?
We should follow the rules until we are capable of being a shining example of what they represent but break them when those very rules hinder the spirit of why those rules were put in place in the first place. We should respect the rules except when following those rules means disregarding or ignoring or remaining blind to an even higher moral principle.
Crazy things you won’t believe used to be legal?!
There are many examples throughout history of crazy things you won’t believe used to be legal. We tend to think of the law as an obvious truth, the reality is that society pretty much makes things up as we go along. A brutal statement you may say. But take a look back at history, travel back in time when your parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were kids, and all kinds of crazy things were legal from meth to owning people, to being able to legally cut half of someone’s brain out for being gay.
Smoking. Smoking everywhere used to be legal. People used to be able to smoke everywhere from conference rooms in office places to airplanes, movie theaters, and restaurants. If you smoked, you looked cool and for women, it was even considered a symbol of emancipation and equality with men.
Drugs. In the US, pretty much all types of drugs were legal at some point or another, from the soft ones to the hard-core type. This is because most drugs were either developed originally for medical reasons, accidentally discovered in experiments, or just plants growing out of the earth that people have ingested like food since the beginning of time. In fact, drugs as a terrifying boogeyman didn’t become a thing until 1875 when the first drug laws in the U.S. were passed. Cocaine was originally used in the late 1800s as a way to treat addiction to morphine. In 1884, Sigmund Freud (a chronic coke user) even penned a love letter to cocaine, called “Uber Coca,” in which he praised the drug for its “exhilaration and lasting euphoria.” When Coca-Cola debuted in 1886, it had two major ingredients: caffeine and cocaine. Why else do you think it is called “Coke?”
Slavery. Slavery has existed since the beginning of time and was perfectly legal around the world. Europeans enslaved other Europeans, Asians enslaved other Asians, Africans enslaved other Africans and Arabs enslaved other Arabs. The color of someone’s skin was not a key factor to determine whether that person could find himself in the unfortunate position of being a slave. Those who became slaves were chosen because of their vulnerability compared to other dominant groups and not because of the color of their skin. In 1793, the British Empire became the first nation to abolish slavery by passing the first legislation to outlaw the slave trade.
Lobotomies. Partial lobotomies used to be considered an appropriate way to deal with mental illness, and an encouraging procedure to handle schizophrenia, depression, suicidal tendencies, and other unwanted social problems – like homosexuality. (It was even sometimes used to treat backaches.). The procedure became very popular and in 1949, the originator of the procedure, Portuguese neurologist António Egas Moniz, shared a Nobel Prize for its discovery. The procedure could be enforced against the individual’s will. After a relatively short surgical lifespan (the Soviet Union was the first country to outlaw the procedure in 1950 stating that it was contrary to the principles of humanity) it was noticed that dulling the emotions produced more than a few negative side effects; namely turning the patient into a vegetable, a living creature with no sign of depression, but a creature unable to focus, unable to make decisions, and unable to operate properly.
Rules to break
We are surrounded by ‘well-intended’ rules and gracious advice from teachers, parents, friends that somehow become ingrained in us. The trouble is many of those rules often aren’t true and yet they have a major influence on our lives. Those are the rules to break. Instead of blindly accepting the rules set down for us by other people, we should learn to question them, think for ourselves, and be more fluid in our judgment.
The ‘accepted’ rule is that the internet makes you anonymous. It is easy to sit all on your own in your bedroom with your computer, to think that no one can see you. You use your computer like a mask, except that your computer doesn’t conceal your real identity. You may feel a level of detachment from your social networking pages or your emails, but the people who read them are very conscious that these words or pictures come straight from you. So, you have to take responsibility for what you say and do online. If you wouldn’t say a thing to someone’s face, don’t say it to Facebook either. Be considerate of what pictures you post or the tone of the emails you send. If you wouldn’t do it or say it offline, then don’t do it or say it online. And if in doubt don’t. I say the internet doesn’t make you anonymous, but it can make you a hero or a prat.
Social media makes you all way too comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it.
Another rule to break is to make a plan and stick to it. Throughout your life, you will have a raft of people from well-intended parents to teachers, spouses, siblings, etc… who will tell you that to succeed in life you need to make a plan and stick to it. Everything we do requires us to make a plan of sorts. Making plans is part of what we do every day, we plan our days at work, our weekends, and our food shopping; we have a plan for our short, medium, and long-term goals, and that is how it should be. It is particularly important to plan ahead for the future. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark, and you dig the well before you are thirsty.
‘Make a plan and stick to it’ sounds like very good advice. It encourages discipline and perseverance. The ‘sticking to the plan part’ is what demonstrates one’s ability to persevere despite difficulties and setbacks. There are plenty of great stories of people who kept going despite the rejections. J.K. Rowling’s original synopsis of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected by 12 different publishing houses before Bloomsbury accepted it. In 2004 Forbes magazine named J.K Rowling the first person to become a billionaire by writing books. No doubt that her persistence to continue writing her novel whilst she was a single mother living on welfare paid off.
Those stories of achieving great success through sheer grit and perseverance are inspiring; we rarely hear stories that say, when the going gets tough, just give up, but these stories exist, they are just not as celebrated. Consider Isaac Newton who is famous for discovering the Law of Gravity; you may not be aware but before he achieved celebrity status, he wasted many years of his life in his quest to become a successful alchemist. Newton was obsessed with alchemy and spent years trying to decipher strange numerological codes hidden in the bible that he thought could give him the recipe for turning lead into gold. Eventually, he came to realize that his pursuit of alchemy was futile and decided to redirect his energy to more scientific pursuits, which eventually led him to discover the Law of Gravity.
Life is unpredictable. Adapt. Pivot and rectify the plan if necessary.
To follow or not to follow the rules? May the choice you make be the right choice. And this my dear friend is your Quest.
For those of my readers and followers who want to get acquainted with the tools to become a High-Value Individual, I invite you to purchase my eBook on Amazon.com. It will be a good use of your time, it is easy to read and it is packed with eye-opening information and guidance.If you wish to support my work you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon, or from Barnes & Noble. The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com
“No man is an island, entire of itself” John Donne. Human beings are social animals, and we need each other to survive and thrive. We are connected to each other, whether through blood, contract, or just through a smile, a word, or a gesture, and that connection is important for the well-being and survival of any individual.
We all have a support system to rely on. An employer relies on his employees to keep the business going and the employees rely on their employer to offer them a safe working environment and a stable structure within which to operate.
Children rely on their parents and their siblings for love and support, and parents rely on their children to provide an endless source of love with intermittent moments of frustration and anxiety and with an expectation that their children will reciprocate all the TLC they received whilst infant by looking after them in their olden days.
Friends rely on each other for love, support encouragement, a shoulder to cry on during hard times, and lots of fun times too. Out in the wild, you can find packs of animals working as a team. We often hear the expression “I am a lone wolf.” But wolves hunt in packs.
No man is an Island and this is because people exist among other people and not purely as individual minds and as a team, we achieve more.
Social interactions keep us sane, healthy, and on the straight and narrow road. Jordan Peterson expresses this sentiment quite well in Rule 1 of his new book ‘Beyond Order’: do not carelessly denigrate social institutions or creative achievement.
The social world is embedded with wisdom and guidance. People remain mentally healthy not merely because of the integrity of their own minds, but because they are constantly being reminded how to think, act, and speak by those around them. If you begin to deviate from the straight and narrow path, if you begin to act improperly, people will react. They will give you a nasty look, mock you, criticize you, and scold you back into place.
People will constantly remind you not to misbehave and will call on you to be at your best. Why rely on our own limited resources to remember the road or to orient ourselves in new territory, when we can rely on signs and guideposts placed there so effortlessly by others? All that is left for you to do is to watch, listen and respond appropriately to the cues. And this is why Jordan Peterson advises us to immerse ourselves in the world of other people, friends, family members, colleagues, and foes alike, despite the anxiety and frustrations that social interactions often produce.
Sitting at the opposite spectrum of this is the practice of solitary confinement which is used as a form of torture. Numerous studies have confirmed that keeping someone in solitary confinement puts them at a very serious risk of descending into irreversible mental illness.
No man is an island; people depend on constant communication with others to keep their minds organized.
Jordan Peterson explains that we all need to think to keep things straight, but we mostly think by talking to other people and also by reading informative blog articles such as this one! We need to talk about the past so that we can distinguish the trivial overblown concern that otherwise plagues our thoughts from the experiences that are truly important.
We need to talk about the nature of the present and our plans for the future, so we know where we are, where we are going, and why we are going there.
We must submit the strategies and tactics we formulate to the judgment of others to ensure their efficiency and resilience. We need to listen to ourselves as we talk as well so that we may organize our reactions, motivations, and emotions into something articulate and organized and dispense with those concerns that are exaggerated and irrational.
No man is an island, entire of itself. Connecting with people around us keeps us sane and helps us survive and thrive. Some people give us happiness, some give us experience, some teach us a lesson and some give us memories.
For those of my readers and followers who want to get acquainted with the tools to become a High-Value Individual, I invite you to purchase my eBook on Amazon.com. It will be a good use of your time, it is easy to read and it is packed with eye-opening information and guidance.
This is a story that you want to read. Stories teach us about life, about ourselves, and about others. There are two ways to learn valuable life lessons that will teach us to become a little bit smarter and wiser. The first method is through trial, error, and personal experience and the second method is through storytelling. The downside of the first method is that it will no doubt bring you a fair amount of pain and suffering, which is something that we all want to avoid as much as possible. Learning life lessons through someone else’s struggle and ordeal is a much less painful way to go about it whilst still bringing the same benefits.
In stories, we capture and observe the actions of the ideal personality or otherwise referred to in this article as the High-Value Individual. The stories we create, watch, listen to and emulate are those that showcase actions and attitudes we find interesting and compelling.
High-Value Individuals know themselves, but it is not enough.
According to Aristotle, knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. But it is not enough, the important question that we should also ask ourselves is who could we be? Everyone has the sense that there is more to them than they have yet allowed to be realized.
Achieving our full potential could be hindered by poor health, misfortune, and the tragedies of life; but it can also be hindered by an unwillingness to take full advantage of the opportunities that life offers, abetted by all sorts of errors such as lack of discipline, faith, imagination, and commitment.
But if you want to be the hero of your own movie then read on because this article and eBook will give you some tools to become a High-Value Individual. From the beginning of time, knowledge was shared from generation to generation thanks to storytellers who used their artistry to pass on information, knowledge, and wisdom to their community.
Well-chosen words breathe hope into us when our spirits are broken, revive us when our bodies are weary, lift our spirits up when we lose ourselves in an ocean of despair, redeem the wrong we feel, and make us stronger than we know.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to become a High-Value Individual.
High-Value Individuals are compelling
High-Value Individuals learn how to walk before they can run. Being compelling is your training ground to become a High-Valued Individual. It is not a walk in the park. It requires a lot of work, discipline, and the ability to learn from your mistakes; you will need to demonstrate patience and perseverance.
Whether we are realizing it or not we are always influencing people, whether it is to get our toddler to eat their carrots and broccolis or convince our colleagues, our boss, or our business partner to adopt alternatives way of doing things, or to help our friend and family to adopt healthy living habits, being compelling is how we make things happen in this world.
We are always influencing people. The moment we step into a room we create an impression of ourselves by the way we are dressed, the expression we have, and the energy we exalt. But is this impression the one we mean to be creating? Could we be forging better connections and a stronger influence if we knew how to be more intentional about the impressions we are generating?
People thrive for connection. We all want to hang out and do business with people with positive vibes. Do not underestimate the power of exchanging something as simple as a smile with a total stranger or holding the door for someone who is behind you.
Being compelling is all about learning the art of striking a perfect balance of strength and warmth and finding your authentic self in the process. We don’t need to portray something we’re not, but we do need to play up to our positives and pay attention to the signals we’re sending others.
You play up to your strengths when you can display your skills and convey your capability in a straight and effective manner with confidence and no arrogance.
You convey warmth when you can create a sense of connection, understanding, compassion, and genuine care for the other person. You put these two ingredients together and you end up with a powerful elixir that can generate respect and affinity.
How much strength and affinity can you display? It will depend on your communication style.
There is so much to say about this subject of being a High-Value individual that I felt I couldn’t do justice to it in a short blog article, so I decided to turn the whole exercise into a 35 pages eBook – How to Become a High-Value Individual.
For those of my readers and followers who want to get acquainted with the tools to become a High-Value Individual, I invite you to purchase my eBook on Amazon.com. It will be a good use of your time, it is easy to read and it is packed with eye-opening information and guidance.
I would like to share this article Live and Let Live to celebrate the birthday of Alizé (my youngest daughter) who is turning 18 today. Time flies! I feel so blessed to be her mother, to have been able to nurture her, love and guide her along the way. Alizé is the name of the wind that blows over Réunion Island where I live – it is a gentle wind not a stormy wind. I like to describe her as our Little Miss Sunshine because she has brought so much light, love, and fun into our lives and to other people’s lives too. Alizé’s superpower is to be able to illuminate the room as soon as she steps in. I am so proud of who she is and have great expectations as to whom she may become. She is a beautiful lady inside and out and strong too.
This article is a way for me to celebrate her and give her some further guidance as she will soon leave the family nest to do her own thing.
I wrote the poem below for my eldest daughter Maya when she graduated from High School in 2020. Today, I wish to re-iterate the same guidance I gave to Maya a few years ago to Alizé and expand it a little bit.
To my lovely daughters, Live fully and courageously, Let live and understand Human Nature, Know yourself and your true essence And understand how the world around you operates.
Wake up, dress up, show up, And do the best you can every day, Until You know better, Then, when you know better, Do better.
Treat your body as a Temple, Attend to it every day, Nurture it, Worship it.
Know that early years can be full of tears, But I know that you are built to face those fears, And I will always be here to send you cheers.
Do you have what it takes? A mind of your own, And the ability to get in the zone.
I wish you clear vision, So that you can make good decisions, And not be paralyzed by indecision.
To have clear vision, Can you master your intuition? And use it as ammunition.
You have this flame, this light inside of you , That sometimes will shine very bright, Surround yourself with people Who would say, woaw this is a beautiful light! Keep shining baby.
And when your friends’ light is shining You want to be the kind of friend That would say, woaw this is a beautiful light! Keep shining baby.
So, go and shine your unique and natural light, As bright and as strong as you can, Be phenomenal! Be you.
Many people consider the poem “If” written in 1895 by the British writer Rudyard Kipling to be one of the most inspirational poems ever written. The poem provides advice on how one should live one’s life with restraint, moderation, and composure. Kipling’s poem is addressed to his son to help him understand what it takes to be successful in life and how to handle defeat when it occurs, but the advice can be assimilated by anyone who is reading the poem.
Poetry is an art that lies in the soul and spirit of man since the beginning of times. The writing of great poetry has been a beautiful vehicle for expressing one’s thoughts, observations, historical events, and various philosophies about life. A great poem, unlike a novel or a short story, can be easily digested and absorbed and can become part of us. We can always rely on our favorite poem to lift our spirits up when we are not feeling our best.
Poetry is an art hidden in complex imagery and philosophy. It awakens our senses and gives us pleasure. Its language is charged, intense, and sophisticated and will stay with us long after you’ve read them. Reading poems is a kind of magical experience because they can mean anything, they are for interpretation rather than argument. Understanding their true meaning allows us to connect, relate, and find meaning in our own experiences.
While Kipling wrote poetry, novels, and articles, he is most notably known for his collection of short stories called the Jungle Book. Kipling won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.
“If” by Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating. And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master. If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, and stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings and never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue. Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you. If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it. And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
1. Composure and self-restraint.
Kipling advises his son (and with him anybody who is ready his poem) to move through life with composure and to exercise self-control, integrity, and humility.“If you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.”
Kipling advocates that we should not let triumph nor disaster go to one’s heads. Composure and self-restraint makes it possible to act with dignity in all circumstances and to lead a respectable life. He encourages people to calmy devote themselves to rebuilding their life if it ever goes to shambles, and remain reasonable and diligent even when times are tough.
Kipling also insists that people shouldn’t become too smug about their own measured and virtuous way of navigating life. “Don’t look too good, nor talk too wise.” The idea is to steer away from vanity (in the sense of merely wanting to look like a good guy) in favor of simple level-headedness. People need to find a happy medium between confidence and modesty. Those who succumb to neither vice nor vanity are those who are capable of persevering through hardship “their Will always telling them to Hold on! ”The idea is that composure leads to strength and integrity.
Learn to be confident without being vain. Be confident in yourself and develop your ability to understand others even if that means understanding that people will not always like or agree with you. “If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you but make allowance for their doubting too.”
Have patience. Don’t lie. Don’t hate. Dream but stay grounded. “If you can wait and not be tired of waiting. Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies. Or being hated, don’t give way to hating.”
Success is never final. Failure is never fatal it is the courage to continue that count. Kipling calls ‘triumph’ and ‘disaster’ imposters because both of these events don’t last long. The small triumphs in life should be celebrated and they taste sweet but staying in the hallucination of victory is an addiction and enslavement. Victory and defeat don’t last. This too shall pass. Accept hardship without dwelling on them. “If you can dream – and not make dreams your master. If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim. If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same.”
Be aware of dishonest and harmful people. They will twist your words to serve their own agendas. But deal with them with dignity. “If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools. Or watch the things you gave your life broken. And stood and build them with worn-out tools.”
If you fail, pick yourself up and start again, and don’t dwell on your loss. When the going gets tough get tougher. Be resilient. Endure the hard time even if that feels both physically and emotionally impossible. “If you can make one heal of all your winnings. And risk it on one turn of pitch and toss. And lose and start again at your beginnings. And never breathe a word about your loss. If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone. And so hold on when there is nothing in you. Except for the Will which says to them “Hold On.!”
6. Be authentic, be yourself.
Treat everyone the same the lowest of the low and the highest in society. Display Tender, Love and care but exert detachment when required. “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue. Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch. If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you. If all men count with you, but none too much.”;
7. Know the value of time.
Time is of the essence don’t waste it. The phrase ‘unforgiven minute’ is a metaphor for life. Time is always unforgiving. You can never get back time that has been wasted away. “ If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.”
Today I am taking you on an adventure to Fairyland to be sprinkled with fairy wisdom. Once there was a competition to know who was the smartest fairy in Fairyland. The Water Fairy, the Green Fairy, and the Frost Fairy were going to compete. The three competing fairies had to answer 3 questions.
The first question was: What do you give to others but still try to keep?
The second question was: What does everyone need, want, and ask, but never take?
The third question was: What can you never get rid of when you lose it?
The Water Fairy had all the answers and enlighten us with her fairy wisdom.
Fairy Wisdom 1: What do you give to others but still try to keep?
We give promises to others and try to keep them. Making promises is easy. Honoring them is another story. We make promises for lots of reasons, and our intentions are usually good. We want to help someone in need. We want to make people happy. But sadly, our actions don’t always measure up to the promises we make. Why is this?
There could be a few reasons. It is possible that we don’t realize that we’ve made or implied a promise. We forgot what we’ve said. We get sidetracked by other events. We lose enthusiasm when we realize that keeping our word is harder than we expected. We haven’t allowed enough time, or we have a scheduling conflict. We lack the power to do what we’ve said we’d do.
You may get away with letting someone down once or twice, but if you keep going back on your promises, the consequences could be deep and enduring, whether on a professional or personal level. It is better not to over-commit yourself to do something if you know that you are not going to have the time or the capacity to do it. Do not make a promise if you know that you can’t keep it. But if you do make a promise to someone, do everything you can to keep your word. Your reputation and trustworthiness depend on it.
And please, don’t forget to treat promises to yourself as seriously as promises to others. Make sure that you keep the promise you made to yourself to take care of your physical and mental health on a daily basis, to manage your personal finances with care and attention, to spend time with family and friends, to spend time reflecting on what is most important to you in life and to live and work according to your deepest values. When you make and keep promises to yourself, you become a better, more fully realized version of yourself, which benefits not only you but everyone around you.
Fairy Wisdom 2: What does everyone need, want, and ask, but never take?
Advice is what everyone needs, wants, and asks for but is never willing to take. Receiving advice and guidance is often seen as the passive consumption of wisdom. When the exchange is done well, people on both sides of the table benefit. Those who are truly open to advice and guidance develop better solutions to problems than they would have on their own. They add nuance and texture to their thinking. Those who give advice effectively yield soft influence – they help shape important decisions while empowering others to act.
The whole interaction is a subtle and intricate art. What is required on both sides is emotional intelligence, self-awareness, restraint, diplomacy, and patience. Ignore as much as possible the temptation to overstep by giving unsolicited advice. Giving unsolicited advice is usually considered intrusive and is seldom followed anyway. Best not to venture over that boundary.
For people who seek advice, act on the advice you’ve received if it resonates with you, and don’t forget to make real-time adjustments. Advice is best treated as provisional and contingent, not a fixed path forward. Things change all the time. What is true today may not be true tomorrow. Stay alert and present. For the giver of advice, walk your talk, and make a note to follow your own advice once in a while.
Fairy Wisdom 3: What can you never get rid of when you lose it?
The one thing you can never get rid of even if you lose it is one’s temper. We all know what anger is because we have all felt it. The academic definition of anger is an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by psychological and biological changes; when you are angry, your heart rate, blood pressure, your adrenaline and cortisol levels go up.
Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats. It inspires powerful, often aggressive feelings and behaviors, which allows us to fight to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is not a bad thing and is necessary for our survival. But anger can become problematic when it is frequent and out of control.
We all have different triggers to make us lose it; but some people are more ‘hotheaded’ than others. They get angry more easily and more intensely than the average person does. There are also those who don’t show their anger in loud spectacular ways but are chronically irritable and grumpy. Easily angered people don’t always curse and throw things; sometimes they withdraw socially, become passive-aggressive, and sulk. People who are easily angered have a low tolerance for frustration, they feel that they should not have to be subjected to frustration, inconvenience, or annoyance. Things should go their way always. Angry people tend to think that they are morally right and that any blocking or changing of their plans is an unbearable indignity.
My (unsolicited) advice to the angry/grumpy person, would be to take some deep breaths, take some time out, and go read a book about anger management; if you don’t have time to read a book you could read or re-read this article and get sprinkled with some fairy wisdom.
Today we are going to hear a lesson in mastery from snowboarding teen genius Mia Brookes. We are always in awe when we are witnessing artists or sports personalities who perform their art or their sport at the highest level of performance and competition. However, we often assume that creativity and brilliance just appear out of nowhere, the fruit of natural talent or perhaps an alignment of the stars. Not quite. Those high performers have reached this level of performance through a process called Mastery.
This article showcases a recent demonstration of Mastery by the British snowboarding teen genius Mia Brookes who made history on 27 February 2023 at the world freestyle skiing and snowboarding championships in Bakuriani Georgia when she became the first woman to ever land a CAB1440. [I didn’t know what a CAB 1440 was until recently, more on this later – keep reading to find out.] This exploit earned her the title of Women Slopestyle Snowboarding World Champion of 2023.
This article is written jointly with Alexandre Levy who was on the ground in Georgia witnessing this historical event and who reached out to me to write about it. Alexandre’s bio reads as follows: “I am Alex. It took me 38 years to finally get connected with my real nomadic self and start cycling around the world. In my previous comfort zone life, I used to work in sales for a language service provider, now I am my own mercenary discovering a whole new world of possibilities and challenges.” You can follow Alex’s adventures around the world by following him on Instagram @ecosamurai7.
Lesson in Mastery from snowboarding teen genius Mia Brookes
Giving all you’ve got and conquering your discipline on your first world championships at the young age of 16!
On 27th of February 2023 in Bakuriani Georgia, Alexandre Levy was on the ground witnessed history being made at the world freestyle skiing and snowboarding championships, where 16-year-old Mia Brookes (from England) defied gravity, and kept her composure throughout the whole run, to win the world championship but also make history along the way.
How did Mia Brookes make history? By becoming the first woman to ever land a CAB1440 double grab – four full frontside rotations while grabbing the board. A jaw-dropping figure that brought all the spectators and commentators to be completely blown away from what was happening in front of their eyes. And as if this was not impressive enough, this was her first world championship.
In slopestyle snowboarding, each rider gets given two runs; the strategy is to take the maximum risk on run 2 once you know that you had achieved a good score on the 1st run. And that is exactly what Mia did, giving everything she had, realizing her ambition, and not letting any excuses nor obstacles or her young age get in the way of glory.
Not only did Mia scored a hammering 91.38 points, but she also scored her name in the history books of slopestyle snowboarding discipline, as a pioneer who has landed, (pardon the pun) on newfound lands of performance and achievement at the tender age of 16 years old. In comparison. runner-up Zoi Sadowski-Synott, Olympic gold medalist and previous world champion is 21 Years old and scored 88.78 bronze medalist Onitsuka Miyabi is 24 years old.
What can we commoners draw from this young warrior of the Xtreme Snowsports? There is always somebody who will beat a record, push back known boundaries, and establish a new feat. Lebron James became the new all-time best scorer of the NBA, Novak Djokovic has claimed 378 weeks as world tennis #1, add to this list Mia’s 1440 feat.
Could it be that 2023 is the year of new horizons for humanity? I say, let’s watch and learn. Let’s all be inspired by these athletes to do better every day, and to keep working at our craft. To become a Master in our field.
Lesson in Mastery from Robert Greene
In Mastery (2012 ), author Robert Greene argues that everybody can achieve mastery of a skill or field if they follow the established steps of historical and present-day masters. He describes Mastery as creative power and excellence that shows you’ve fully grasped your discipline. It involves technical proficiency and social know-how. He believes that you achieve mastery when you bring those skills together with reason, intuition, and experience.
Robert Greene explains that Mastery can be nurtured in 3 phases.
Apprenticeship. This is when you learn the basics of a certain field.
Creative -Active. With immersion and practice you deepen your understanding of the field and experiment with your own methods.
Mastery. You have such a high level of focus, knowledge, and experience that you can see the full picture and can achieve spectacular results. It typically takes 10,000 hours of intense practice or about 20 years to attain the required combination of skills, knowledge, and intuition.
What is extraordinary about Mia Brookes is that she achieved Mastery at the young age of 16. Take away a couple of years and here and there to give her the time to learn how to walk and discover snowboarding then you have in front of you a snowboarding genius, who showed up, did her thing, and made history.
Mia Brookes on making history.
But let’s hear from the woman herself. Let’s hear what Mia Brookes had to say about how she prepared herself for the championship and who gave her the best advice so far.
You often hear athletes getting ready for a big event by doing a lot of visualization, breathing techniques, and meditation. For Mia Brookes none of that. She got into the zone in her own style. Just before she hit the slopes, she was listening to hard rock music (Rage Against the Machine and Metallica!). She said during interviews afterward that she knew when she started the 2nd run that she had already done enough to finish on the podium so she went full-on for the 2nd run. She said: “I knew everything would be alright. That I just had to trust myself and believe in myself. I could feel it was going to happen.”
Mia Brookes gives credit to Jamie Anderson a two-time slopestyle Olympic gold medalist for her calm mentality. “Jamie has been my hero for a while now because of what she’s achieved, her mindset, and how she deals with stressful competitions. Whatever the environment, she always just seems to be really chilled out and really calm. Jamie gave me a letter a few years ago saying if you are grateful and happy you will do well in whatever you’re doing.”
I love hats. I buy them, wear them and even write about them. As a writer, I like wearing hats because it helps me keep ideas in. Ideas are abstract, fluffy things, prone to floating away, remaining just out of reach if you don’t contain them. So, best to leave my hat on!
Have you noticed that people who wear hats come across as more confident; they exult charisma. As well as keeping your ideas in, the beauty of using a hat to change your attitude is, of course, that it’s the quickest costume change possible; the right headgear can help create an attitude and all the confidence you need in no time at all. Affirm your identity with a hat. The hat that dresses you reflects your principles, your attitude, and your panache.
Whatever the weather and whatever your mood, leave your hat on. Cap, hat, or beanie are excellent protection against the cold, rain, wind, and sun. A hat can shield you from the elements or keep your hair in place. A hat can hide despair, anguish, loss, or gloom. Or it can ignite a smile from people when you walk into a room. Feeling blue? Wear a hat. Feeling nervy. Wear a hat. Having a bad hair day? Wear a hat. On the run? Wear a hat. Want some fun? Wear a hat.
Let’s talk hats!
If multitasking is your superpower. Wear multiple hats. Mothers are experts at wearing multiple hats. Mother – Housekeeper – Cook- teacher-nurse – Coach – taxi driver – Storyteller – Planner – Organizer – Decorator – Best friend – multi tasker – Bloody Wonder woman! Next time you go out shopping looking for a present for your mother, buy her a whole collection of hats so that she can look the part whenever she is changing hats.
Hats off to all the multitasking mothers out there. For centuries, taking one’s hat off in the presence of someone was a sign of respect, but it was only from the 19th century that the expression became figurative in the sense of admiration or respect.
When my daughters were younger it wasn’t unusual for me to rush to school at the drop of a hat to bring the forgotten school assignment, sports gear, or other vital items that my daughters forgot at home. The phrase ‘at the drop of a hat’ originates in the 19th century. During that time, it was common to signal the beginning of a fight or race by either dropping a hat or sweeping it in a rapid downward motion.
I really had to put my thinking cap on to write this article. I didn’t want my readers to think that I was all hat and no cattle when I was saying that I love hats so much that I can write a meaningful article about them. So, I come to you hat in hand, with a request to like, comment and share this article if you learned something from it.
Having said that, I am actually struggling to fill this article with more meaningful facts about hats. I am thinking now would be a good time to pull somethingreally amazing out of my hat to keep my readers interested and engaged till the end. So I thought I should share a beautiful poem with you written by Pamela Joyce Randolph.
Let’s be poetic!
Your Quest my dear friend is, if you are feeling blue, wear a hat. If you are feeling nervy. Wear a hat. If you are having a bad hair day? Wear a hat. If you are on the run? Wear a hat. If you want some fun? Wear a hat.
One month into the New Year and I am wondering how many people are still heading to the gym 3 to 4 times a week as per their New Year resolutions. I found out a while ago that the best way to avoid failing my New Year’s resolutions was not to make any! Instead, I just quietly and diligently do the things that need doing. One of the things that I have been doing diligently for a few years now is skipping. While many of us remember skipping as something we did as children, I became re-acquainted with this discipline through martial art training.
One of the reasons why people are struggling to make the most of their gym membership is that it requires effort to get to the gym. Having access to a gym right at your doorstep is not a given. One-hour gym session may turn into a 2-hour plus event if you add the time to get to the gym and back. If you are the type of person who is pretty busy, doesn’t like exercising indoors or can’t face the prospect of driving through traffic to get sweaty in a gym, I suggest that you grab a rope and skip yourself to health.
A skipping rope is the most convenient exercise equipment to have because it is easily available, you can carry it and use it anywhere, anytime. Skipping rope = accessibility, portability, versatility & a lot of fun.
Jumping rope has long been used by boxers as a form of training to help improve their footwear and general conditioning. Jumping rope will improve your cardiovascular health, will lower your blood pressure, and reduce your resting heart rate.
Jumping rope will also increase your cardiorespiratory fitness which essentially means your body becomes more efficient at taking up and using oxygen. Research has shown that cardiorespiratory fitness is linked to improved health and longevity.
Jumping rope is a full-body exercise that requires speed and coordination and is a form of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT exercise is where you have short bouts of high-intensity efforts followed by a short rest interval. This is repeated several times. HIIT workouts are the ideal type of exercise for a busy schedule. The average HIIT workout is between 15 to 30 minutes. Research has shown that you can achieve more progress in 15 minutes of interval training than you can jogging on a treadmill for an hour.
Another reason why HIIT workouts are so popular is that they are extremely effective for weight loss. When trying to lose weight, you want to burn fat and build lean muscle to continue to burn more fat. HIIT forces your body to use energy from fat as opposed to carbs. Not only do you burn more calories during a HIIT workout than steady cardio; but the most amazing benefit of all is that all that intense exertion keeps your body working long after you’re done with your exercise for the day. In effect, you jump rope for 30 minutes and your body keeps burning the fat for the next 24 hours! Raise your hand if you want to turn your body into a fat-burning machine whilst sleeping!
In addition to increased fat burning and muscle preservation, HIIT workouts stimulate the production of your human growth hormone (HGH). It goes up by 450% during the 24 hours after your workout. This, in turn, increases your metabolism. An increased metabolism makes it less likely for you to gain weight.
Grab a rope and have a full-body workout.
Skipping is a full-body workout that uses abdominal muscles to stabilize the body, your legs for jumping, and your shoulders and arms for turning the rope. It will also improve your coordination and balance. A study found that jumping rope is one of the most effective cardio exercises out there – and it can whip you into shape with just a few minutes a day of skipping. In the study, after six weeks of daily 10-minute jump-rope exercises, participants demonstrated the same levels of improvement in their cardiovascular health as individuals who jogged for 30 minutes a day.
Research has shown that jumping rope will also increase your bone mineral density. Your overall bone strength is a combination of the amount of bone tissue you have (your bone density) and how healthy or strong that bone tissue is. Both of these things are affected as you age. Jumping rope involves making an impact on the ground with every jump. These impacts cause our bones to remodel themselves to become stronger, thus increasing bone density. Higher bone density makes you stronger and less likely to break a bone.
Your Quest my dear friend is to skip like nobody is watching and gain all the benefits of a short, intense, and fun workout anytime, anywhere! Off you go.
We all love stories and movies about pirates. From Peter Pan to Pirates of the Caribbean. Children and adults alike love stories of pirates sailing the high seas, burying treasure, seeking adventure wherever it might be hiding, and launching themselves into thrilling battles. Pirates are often depicted as these rogues of the sea who are impossibly good-looking, eccentric, brilliant, resourceful, bold not to say reckless; the kind of elixir that could make anyone kinda irresistible.
How did pirates, who often committed horrendous acts of savagery become such loveable and idealized characters in the public mind? While pretty much nobody wants to be hanged or marooned, many of us sympathize with the desire to break free of our everyday routines and go off on an adventure, acquiring riches beyond our wildest dream in the process.
There is no doubt that pirate tales capture our imagination- Pirates movies such as the Pirates of the Caribbean have struck a chord with audiences all over the world. It is not hard to see why because the movie blends incredible action with humor and genuine emotional moments by a cast of unforgettable (and morally questionable) characters. Chief among them, of course, is the eccentric Captain Jack Sparrow.
I invite you through this article to step outside the studios of Hollywood and head straight to the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean where we will be sailing through the high seas to meet up with some real-life pirates that became legends.
The 17th-18th Century the Golden Age of piracy
Christopher Columbus discovered America at the end of the 16th century and kickstarted an era of exploration; the discovery of the New World made him and his king famous but also very rich – the land was full of treasure gold, silver, and precious metals. The Spanish sailed West to look for treasures, whilst the Portuguese (not wanting to walk on the Spaniards’ turf) sailed East towards India, which was another one of those land full of spices and riches beyond imagination. Large Spanish and Portuguese ships called galleons began to sail back to Europe loaded with their precious cargo. The journey back home was fraught with danger. The high seas were the favorite playground of a sea of thieves.
What is the difference between a privateer, a corsair, and a buccaneer? Corsairs were pirates who operated in the Mediterranean Sea. Buccaneers lived in the Caribbean and the Pacific Coast of Central America. The name is derived from the French boucan a grill for smoking meat and was first applied to French wild game hunters living in West Hispaniola in the early 17th century. At first, they lived as hunters but later the governors of the Caribbean Islands paid them to attack Spanish treasure ships. Although raids started with official backing the buccaneers gradually became out of control attacking any ship, they thought carried valuable cargo whether it belongs to an enemy country or not. Eventually, the Buccaneers became pirates. Privateers were privately owned ships armed with guns operating in times of war. The Admiralty issued them with Letters of Marque that allowed them to capture merchant vessels without being charged with piracy. All goods and treasures were seized, and a cut was given to the government.
A Letter of Marque was a formal letter of authority allowing private owners of ships to capture enemy merchant ships on behalf of their government. If you were stealing in the name of your government your activities were viewed as heroic and noble but if you were stealing for your own personal account, you were labeled a pirate, a thief, and a vagabond and your punishment (if caught) would be death by hanging.
Corsairs, buccaneers, and privateers found themselves without a job in 1713 when a peace treaty was signed between several nations. The choice for them was (1) work as a sailor on a merchant ship, (2) work for your government or King on a navy ship, or (3) become a pirate. Many chose Option 3 – piracy. Life as a pirate was short, brutal, and spectacular.
Meet Olivier Levasseur, nicknamed, La Buse, the most prolific pirate of all time
Olivier Levasseur, nicknamed La Buse (The Buzzard) made a name for himself as one of the most prolific pirates of all time. He was born in Calais (France) in 1695 and was hanged for piracy in 1730 on Réunion Island (where I live) – A grave with his name on can be found in the Cimetière Marin de St Paul. La Buse is a historical figure and a legend. His life was just like a Hollywood movie, except that it was not pretend, it was the real deal. The mystery and intrigue he generated have not dissipated and he had been the focus of an astounding treasure hunt that began almost 300 years ago.
Levasseur was born into a wealthy family and practiced as an architect before becoming restless and hitting the ocean. He started off as a privateer or corsair for the French Crown in the Caribbean but soon he cut ties with his king and turned towards piracy. After the Peace Treaty, the colonial powers – not wanting to waste their military resources – decided that it was a good time to start a new war – The War on Pirates. The Caribbean was becoming too hot and too full of pirate hunters. La Buse thought that it was time to find a new playground and made his way to the Indian Ocean, where he met with a notorious English pirate named John Taylor. Levasseur met Taylor on Ile Sainte-Marie in Madagascar, an impregnable hideout for pirates. They decided to join forces.
Together they wreaked mayhem on their respective ships navigating the islands off the coast of Africa in search of adventure and loot to steal. On 16 April 1721, in one of the biggest pay-days of the history of piracy, La Buse and Taylor highjacked The Nossa Senhora Do Cabo or the Virgin of The Cape a Portuguese flagship that was mourned in Saint-Denis Harbour on Ile Bourbon (now Réunion). The ship was loaded with gold, jewelry, artworks, and other priceless artifacts.
On board was the Count of Ericeira ViceRoy of Portuguese India and in its hold was 10 years of accumulated treasures, gold, diamonds, jewelry, spices fine clothes, fine woods, and more. After heavy fighting, La Buse & Taylor seized the ship with its spectacular loot that was estimated at more than $1.5 billion maybe more! The Virgin of the Cape was renamed The Victorieux, Levasseur’s powerful new ship.
After taking over the treasure, the pirates quickly fled to their headquarters in Madagascar with the British navy in hot pursuit but to no avail. On that day, Levasseur and Taylor made history, they acquired the biggest loot of all time. The booty was divided between the crew. Each pirate got 42 diamonds and 5000 gold guineas. There were extra shares for the officers. Levasseur kept the rest.
Pirates become famous when they battle and loot, but they become legends when the time comes to bury their treasure. Levasseur buried his treasure in several temporary spots helped by a small crew before moving it to its final spot. The crew who helped bury the treasure in its final spot were the unlucky ones, they knew too much and were executed. No one except La Buse knew the location of the treasure. This treasure is said to be the holy grail of the whole history of piracy. It has never been found. The biggest treasure hunt of all time started 300 years ago and is still ongoing.
La Buse was a rich man. He decided to retire in Madagascar. The King of France offered him clemency if he returns the treasure. He refused. He laid low and enjoyed his retirement for 9 peaceful years until he run out of luck. On a fateful day in 1730, he was caught, sent to Ile Bourbon for a trial, and then sentenced to be hanged for his act of piracy. At his public hanging, he addressed the onlookers gathered around the gallows and said “Find my treasure the one who may understand it.” and threw a cryptogram into the crowd.
The Cryptogram is made of 17 lines of symbols. The British Museum tested the document and concluded that it was a genuine parchment from the 18th century. Levasseur was an intellectual, a Greek and Latin scholar who was versed in masonic symbology. Many scholars, historians, linguists, and treasure hunters tried to decode the cryptogram throwing everything they had at it Greek, Latin, Hebrew, astrology, astronomy and mythology. To no avail. To this day, no one has succeeded in decoding the secret message and it is assumed that the treasure is still buried somewhere on Réunion Island.
For any wannabe treasure hunters out there, be aware that there is no such thing in France as “Finders Keepers Law” that is in effect in England. Any treasure you find will have to be handed out to the authorities. So, chances are, La Buse’s Treasure may well stay buried another 300 years because who on earth will have the time, dedication, and resources to go on a treasure hunt to give it all back to your government if you get lucky?!
Why do we love pirates?
Pirates have been idealized and romanticized more than any other profession thanks to authors and movie makers. Popular literature has idealized and romanticized these figures hovering on the edge of the law. A pirate fits as easily into a hero’s shoes or as a villain, though they often shift from one to another over the course of their story; enemies can become allies; friends can become foes. They are unpredictable and loveable.
One of the authors who helped pirates slipped into popular legends is Daniel Defoe (author of Robinson Crusoe) who published in 1724 a General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates under the pseudonym Captain Charles Johnson. The book was an enormous success and this paved the way for pirates’ stories to become viral.
Another reason why we love pirates despite their ruthless and savage attitude is because they abide by a code of conduct that reads like a script from a utopian movie where everyone has equal say on all matters, a free society with no elected leaders, and where the distribution of labor and profits were made equally.
Life as a pirate was short, brutal, spectacular, and definitely not for the faint-hearted. Not the type of lifestyle that you would want to replicate, but entertaining nonetheless. We love pirates because Pirate Style never goes out of fashion (raise your hand anyone who likes dressing up as a pirate), and they know a thing or two about hiding valuables, whilst creating a 300-year-old mystery that has still not been solved. To be continued…
[This is going to be a long story but if you read only one blog article this year, I suggest you read this one. Some deep secrets are going to be revealed… Make yourself comfortable because secrets such as this one cannot be revealed in a few paragraphs. I am going to take you on an epic journey. Off we go]
The world we are living in is chaotic and uncertain. Nothing is easy, we have to fight our way through everything. Everybody has problems, issues, and dramas to deal with and if you add to this some unexpected world events and some natural disasters then life becomes quite tricky. Wherever we are in the world, we all want the same thing. We all want to survive and thrive. We want to be happy, healthy, and wealthy. Surely, there must be a secret to stepping out of this chaotic world and getting to this Eldorado. Good news: there is a secret. It’s VUCA! You can watch the full documentary by joining UNIFYD TV where you will have access to a treasure trove of mindblowing information.
The US Army War College saw signs in 1987 that the world was becoming more volatile, more complex, more interconnected, more uncertain, and dangerously ambiguous. They put their best minds to work and came up with a military strategy known as V.U.C.A: Volatility. Uncertainty. Complexity. Ambiguity. From its very outset, the VUCA concept was put together to give US soldiers the ability to survive and thrive in times of crisis.
This military strategy (which is unknown to most) is the secret to survive and thrive in this chaotic world. For those of you who wish to follow me on this Quest to find this Eldorado, read on; I am going to take you on an epic journey. I have in my possession the “secret” roadmap that will take us out of this chaotic world and straight to the hero’s journey. How did I come to possess such valuable information; you may ask? All was revealed to me in a documentary I watched recently called It’s VUCA – The Secret to Surviving in the 21st Century by Michael Schindler.
This article is based on this documentary and on some of the previous blog articles I wrote in the past which complement the VUCA concept quite well.
Life is a battlefield. Nothing is easy, we have to fight our way through everything; with this in mind, it would be a good idea for us to familiarize ourselves with combat strategy and learn the best tricks in the book from trained warriors.
The secret to survive and thrive in this chaotic world is to first recognize that we live in a chaotic world
There is no doubt that we are living in a VUCA world where things are Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. The Covid Era will be remembered as the age of despair, fractured communities where we were forced to alienate ourselves from our families, friends, colleagues, and clients. People were living in a state of fear, stress, sadness,and uncertainty and were bombarded by information, new regulations, and emergency decrees that were complex and ambiguous. There seems to be more pain than we could heal, more dissent than we could mediate, and more uncertainty than we could comprehend.
The Covid Era taught us all that we are living in interesting times and learning how to navigate between order and chaos is critical. Everyone experiences the world through chaos, order, and something in between called consciousness.
Order is explored territory. It is the authority, the structured society. Order is tribe, religion, home, and country. Order is where the world’s behavior matches our expectations and desires, the place where all things turn out the way we want them to.
Chaos is unexplored territory. Chaos is the place you find yourself when things fall apart, when your dream dies, your career collapses, or your marriage ends. Chaos is when we don’t know where we are. When we don’t know what we are doing, and we don’t know where we are going.
Volatility turns our world upside down. We live in a volatile world where we have to face changes that are unpredictable and frequent with devastating impacts on our lives, jobs, businesses, and relationship. When uncertainty reigns, no one can predict with confidence what’s going to happen next. People feel hopeless. How we can find hope amid uncertainty and conflict? In a VUCA world, the volume of information to process is complex, overwhelming, and staggering. It is like being asked to play chess every day whilst the rules of the game keep changing all the time. Ambiguity is the name of the game. What is causing the chaos is unclear and confusing. There is no roadmap to follow, no landmarks, and no signposts.
Life is a battlefield, it is in the nature of most living organisms to engage in battles, have defense mechanisms, defeat their opponents, assert power and dominate. With humans, we see this happening in wars, in business, on a soccer field, in video games, and the chances are even when we are not waging war against our environment, we are waging war against ourselves. So how do you win everyday battles?
“If you know the enemy and you know yourself you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. But if you know neither the enemy nor yourself you will succumb in every battle.”
Sun Tzu claimed that the highest victory is defeating the enemy without fighting. Unfortunately, this ideal proposition is not always an option, sometimes you have no other option but to fight. That is why in life we ought to pick our battles carefully, we have to decide which battles are worth fighting and which are a waste of energy and resources. When push comes to shove and you have no choice but to fight, get into the arena and fight like your life depends on it, because it does. And please don’t wait for the cavalry to come and save you. The calvary ain’t coming, you are the calvary.
In life, you need to have the courage to fight those battles. Courage is not an absence of fear, courage is the mental preparedness and ability to deal with difficult challenges, and sometimes seemingly impossible circumstances. It is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, intimidation, and other threats.
And this is where the big secret is revealed…
The secret is that you fight VUCA with VUCA. What you have to do is flip the script by turning the negative VUCA into a positive VUCA. Volatility can be countered by Vision. Uncertainty can be countered by Understanding. Complexity can be countered by Clarity. Ambiguity can be countered by Agility.
When you go into battle you need ammunition.
Ammunition number 1: Vision
In order to have vision, you first need to observe. Looking at something produces nothing. Observing on the other hand produces insights. According to the Oxford dictionary, “Observation is the action or process of observing something or someone in order to gain information.” Our observation skills inform us about objects, events attitudes, and phenomena using one or more senses. Improving our observation skills allows us to “listen” with more than our ears and make better decisions.
When we observe we can take a step back to peer into ourselves and others. Observing ourselves is crucial but observing others is essential as it provides another angle. When you combine the two the observation of ourselves and others you get valuable insights that you can use to better connect and communicate with people. Developing your observation skills will help you develop a better vision.
Get into the habit of observing the world as it is, in all its variety learning from it, and putting what you learned into use in your decision-making process, in improving your intuition, in building your relationships, and in developing your foresight and vision.
Ammunition number 2: Understanding
In order to understand the people and the world around you, you have to develop your ability to listen and to think for yourself.
“When you talk you are only repeating something that you already know. But if you listen you may learn something new.”
Before you assume learn the fact. Before you judge, understand why. Before you hurt someone, feel. Before you speak, think. Before you talk, Listen. Listening is key to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood. As a result, communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated.
Effective communication also starts with the understanding that people are not mind readers. Expecting people to guess your wishes and aspirations is only to bring frustration and resentment. If you want something from someone express yourself clearly. If you use the right word, the right tone of voice, and the right body language, you are increasing your chance of having your wishes and aspirations become a reality. Listening means paying attention not only to the story but how it is told. The use of language, the tone of voice, and how the person uses his or her body are important. Pay attention. It means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages.
We all think of ourselves as rational creatures, but in reality, humans are deeply irrational and are often governed by emotion rather than logic. Moreover, we have a tendency to operate within our own echo chamber, where the only information that goes through our brain is information that validates our prior knowledge vindicates our prior decisions, or sustains our existing beliefs.
Critical thinking means many things but at heart, it means a search for the truth. Critical thinking helps us determine what is real and what is not. But before we are able to exercise our cognitive ability to think we need to have a certain base of knowledge as a starting point. We can only think critically about things that we have knowledge of.
We should get into the habit from time to time of walking down the road less traveled the one taken by critical thinkers. If you decide to walk down that road it will require that you possess a certain fluidity of mind, some discipline, and be driven by the will to get to the truth of the matter rather than the urge to be righteous no matter what.
We live in a world of double standards, flagrant contradictions, and intolerance. It seems that people these days are incapable of having discussions with someone with who they strongly disagree, and have a civilized exchange based on reason rather than rage. It is a very sorry state of affairs. Preaching intolerance in the name of tolerance is a frightening contradiction that doesn’t seem to faze some people. But that is the VUCA world where are living in.
As a VUCA warrior, you will be a dangerous person if you know how to observe, listen, think (for yourself) and act accordingly.
Ammunition number 3: Clarity
There are 2 types of people in this world. Those who see clearly and those who don’t. People who see clearly are confident in themselves and in their abilities. Confident people know who they are, what they want, and how they should go about it. They have a road map; they have a destination in mind and have planned the journey ahead. They have determination, discipline, and a sense of purpose and they go through their life journey in a state of joy, happiness, and grace.
People who don’t see clearly are lost, they drift, they are discouraged, they keep changing their mind and instead of going forward towards the light (there is always light at the end of the tunnel) they turn around in circles, wandering endlessly and compulsively but not really going anywhere and their life journey ends up being a journey full of pain and suffering.
The lack of clarity triggers different types of reactions in people. Some people will opt for burying their heads in the sand and continue to operate on autopilot. Others will sink into despair or run around in a state of panic not knowing what to do, holding on to their anger, resentment, and suffering.
Suffering is part of life everybody has problems, issues, and dramas to deal with. Jordan Peterson advocates that we should bear our own cross, our own suffering, transcend it and then try to reduce it by becoming some kind of hero to ourselves and to people around us. So how do we become heroes? Not by wearing a cape, jumping from building to building trying to save the world. We become heroes by becoming a better person every day, shining our own light into the world. [Hold that thought, more on this later.]
“Your mind is like this water my friend. When it is agitated, it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.”
All of us without hesitation would prefer if given the choice, to be in the skin of one of those people who can see clearly. However, life is never black or white life is a lot more complex than that and you can bet that all of us will have periods where we experience moments of clarity, where everything is in harmony where we feel that we are on top of the world and we know where we are going, but we will also experience moments when we lack clarity, when we are filled with doubts and feel discouraged and drift not knowing where we are going.
If Clarity was a commodity that could be purchased the chance is that commodity would become the most precious item one could own. The problem is you cannot obtain Clarity from someone else you cannot buy Clarity and you cannot unfortunately receive it as a gift from someone else. You will have to find it yourself. Clarity will make your thoughts, your emotions, and your actions congruent with each other.
Buddhists believe that: “The world is like muddy water. To see through it, we have to let things settle. We can’t be disturbed by initial appearance. And if we are patient and still the truth will be revealed to us.”
Ammunition Number 4: Agility
As VUCA Warriors we should be agile, we should learn the art of mobility. In the military world, the ability to maneuver cross-country and in the most restrictive terrain is essential. In life, if you are stuck in your own self-righteous and rigid way of doing things then you will lack the mobility to advance. Stiffness of thoughts originates from an inability to think critically preferring instead to submit yourself to groupthink and an ideology without questioning it.
The world is not black and white there are several shades of grey in between. Things change all the time. What is true today may not be true tomorrow. You don’t need a group, a leader, or some media platforms to tell you how to think and how to act. Don’t let people put you into a box and stick a label on it because that makes you predictable, vulnerable, and controllable. Be your own person be curious about what’s going on, ask questions, and think for yourself.
And please, stop asking for permission when you don’t have to. From the day we are born, we spend our lives asking for permission for everything. It starts with our parents, our teachers, our boss, our spouse, or our leader, and it goes on and on. Being compliant, obedient, and asking for permission might serve us well in a civilized society as we learn how to control our wants and desires; but the irony and eventual quiet tragedy of that is that in some instances, our wants and desires might not have a possessor, a licensor or a permit giver. It may lay outside the realms of ownership. There may be broad indifference to whether we act in some way or not. There may be no law or no one to be upset by our move. The desired thing in question might just belong to whoever dares to step forward and take it. There is no formal procedure, it’s just the courage to imagine that it could be yours. I say, stop asking for permission, if you don’t have to. Learn to be more autonomous and agile.
If you have the Vision, the Understanding, the Clarity of mind, and the Agility; congratulations, you have passed the test to be a VUCA warrior.
The secret to survive and thrive in this chaotic world is to recognize the necessity to act on our VUCA warrior attitude and combat obstacles on our journey
This is where storytelling comes into play. The VUCA world is laced with dilemmas, and problems you can’t solve, problems that won’t go away. Storytelling is critical in the VUCA world because stories take us into the unknown, they teach us about facing conflicts and overcoming fear and obstacles. We are all looking for clear answers to our questions, clear paths to follow, and clear solutions to our problems.
There are two ways to learn valuable life lessons that will teach us to become a little bit smarter and wiser. The first method is through trial, error and personal experience and the second method is through storytelling. The downside of the first method is that it will no doubt bring you a fair amount of pain and suffering, which is something that we all want to avoid as much as possible. Learning life lessons through someone else’s struggle and ordeal is a much less painful way to go about it whilst still bringing the same benefits. And this is why storytelling is so important. Stories teach us about life, about ourselves and about others.
The importance of storytelling
We should not underestimate the writer’s role in society. From the beginning of time, knowledge was shared from generation to generation thanks to storytellers who used their artistry to pass on information, knowledge, and wisdom to their community.
Well-chosen words breathe hope into us when our spirits are broken, revive us when our bodies are weary, lift our spirits up when we lose ourselves in an ocean of despair, redeem the wrong we feel, and make us stronger than we know.
Do not underestimate the writer’s role in society, because writers bring to the world something that no one else can… they shape the world. Writers have the power through their words to educate, heal and illuminate the mind.
“A poet’s work is to name the unnamable, to point to fraud, to start arguments, to shape the world, and to stop it going to sleep. Writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things that go on in the world of uncertainty, doubts, dreams, love, deception … that go on, slipping like sand through our fingers. To understand just one life, you just have to swallow the world. Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest place in human society and in the human spirit, where I go to find not absolute truth, but the truth of the tale, of the imagination of the heart.”
Storytelling gives us that clarity and can give us the courage to act, and the motivation to be resilient. For sure we can turn to real and/or fictional heroes for inspiration and motivation but ultimately you have to embark on your own hero’s journey and become the hero of your own story. Remember. The cavalry ain’t coming, you are the cavalry.
The hero’s journey
Heroes are admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or their noble qualities. Heroes may be exhausted, but they persevere. They may be fearful, but they face danger courageously; still, they do not quail in the face of countless obstacles and danger. Heroes are undeterred by profoundly insurmountable difficulties and most of all they don’t allow themselves to be intimidated by destructive forces that cross their paths.
History is full of admirable heroes who fought against tyranny but in the modern era Are there any heroes left? If you live in a tyranny, would you know it? And if you did, are there any heroes left to fight against it? It is not a good idea to expect a noble knight to come on his white horse to save you. Save yourself. I believe that there is a new breed of heroes that are emerging. They are difficult to spot because they don’t wear a cape and a mask, they don’t jump from building to building, they don’t ride on a white horse; they are hiding in plain sight, they are amongst us hidden by their familiarity, they are hiding in you and me. Today’s heroes are you and me and anybody who has the courage to stand up when demoralized people are kneeling in submission.
Remember that a hero’s journey begins at the end of our comfort zone. A comfort zone is an artificial mental boundary within which we maintain a sense of security and out of which we experience great discomfort. Each one of us has our own boundaries that delineate our comfort zone, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all-comfort-zone model, but what you must know is that all the comfort zone is concerned about is keeping you inside of it.
A lot of people will have a natural inclination for staying inside their comfort zone even if they are unhappy and unfulfilled, first and foremost because it is familiar and safe, but most of all because they are afraid of the unknown, the risk of failure, and/or being hurt. They would rather stay wrapped up in their little cocoon, preferring to stay warm and cozy.
The only problem with this is that even if you have a strong desire to stay warm and cozy forever and have no inclination to do more than is absolutely necessary, sometimes life doesn’t give you that choice. The Covid Era is a great testimony of this. Ultimately, the hero within you will have to leave their cozy comfort zone and head into the scary unknown. At this point, courage and resilience are required to face doubts, interferences, and weaknesses; but what the hero will gain in the process are courage, a new perspective, and some wisdom.
In life, you need to have courage in order to fight those battles. Courage is the mental preparedness and ability to deal with difficult challenges and sometimes seemingly impossible circumstances. It is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, intimidation, and other threats.
Courage is not a quality that you are born with. It is one that has to be cultivated and honed. Today, we typically associate courage with heroic deeds but being courageous does not necessarily entail doing something dramatic or astoundingly heroic, everyday living requires courage. When we work to develop courage, we both empower ourselves with the ability to confront problems head-on, as well as acquire the skills required to deal with life’s inevitable challenges.
VUCA demands more from you. It demands more energy, more focus, more strength,and more resilience. Look at every day as being a VUCA warrior in training getting ready to get into the arena and fight as and when necessary.
The secret to survive and thrive in this chaotic world is to become antifragile. Human beings are fragile animals, but we are also resilient, rational beings with foresight, discernment, and the ability to survive and even thrive. Nobody knows what is going to happen next so we should get comfortable being uncomfortable while uncertainty reigns.
“Uncertainty is the very conditions that impels man to unfold his powers. As we navigate our own uncertain times together, may a thousand flowers of sanity bloom, each valid so long as it is viable in anchoring the human spirit it animates. And may we remember the myriad terrors and uncertainties preceding our own which have served as unexpected awakenings from some of our most perilous civilization slumbers.”
We live every day with the knowledge of our staggering fragility, and we know how physiologically vulnerable our body and mind can be. We are aware that terrible outcomes are always possible and often probable. Your Quest as a human being is to protect yourself against the danger of losing your life but also against the danger of losing your mind. When the going gets tough, be tougher.
This knowledge of our own vulnerability makes us go back and forth between ecstatic optimism and sheer despair. In order to cope with that awareness and to counterweigh the heavy sense of our own fragility we often rely on the hope that somehow, we will be strong enough to withstand rare and unexpected events which the author Nassim Taleb refers to asBlack Swans Events.
In his book, The Black Swan (2007) Taleb focuses on the extreme impact of rare and unpredictable events which are events impossible to predict due to their extreme rarity. As Black Swan Events may result in catastrophic consequences it is important for people always to assume, however, unlikely that they are possible and plan accordingly. In his book, Taleb urges his readers to not attempt to predict Black Swans Events but to build robustness to their negative impacts. The world is too complex for anyone to understand or predict exactly what is going to happen, and rather than naively try to predict Black Sawn Events we just need to be aware of the possibility and adjust to their existence by becoming antifragile.
In his book, Antifragile (2012) Taleb explains that all systems can be categorized as fragile, robust, or antifragile. Fragile things are exposed and destroyed by volatility. Robust things resist. Antifragile things benefit from it.
“Some things benefit from shock they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder stressors and uncertainty. Antifragility is beyond resilience and robustness. The resilient resists shock and stay the same. The antifragile gets better. The fragile wants tranquility. The antifragile grows from disorder.”
Nassim Taleb urges people to stop using the observable past as an indicator of the future – Don’t be a Turkey! Turkey is fed for 1000 days and thinks that everything is all right and food will be coming. On day 1001 the day before Thanksgiving everything changes.
“Uncertainty is our discipline and understanding how to act under conditions of incomplete information is the highest and most urgent human pursuit.”
Below are 4 tips to become tougher and antifragile:
Become antifragile and tougher by removal. The solution to many problems in life is solved by removal, and not by addition. Living a healthy life is more about removing sugar, processed food, and unhealthy snacks from your diet. Similarly, people become wealthy by reducing their exposure to going bust. Professional athletes win games by removing mistakes.
Become tougher and antifragile by being healthy. Treat your body as a temple worship it every day. Being unhealthy makes our immune system weak, which makes us more prone to disease, which in turn makes us fragile. Hippocrates is known for saying: “let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.” According to this doctrine, the body contains within itself the power to rebalance and heal itself.
Become tougher and antifragile by optionality. The more options you have the more freedom you have to respond to unforeseen circumstances, thus reducing your fragility to Black Swan Events. If you have optionality you don’t need to be right that often. All you need is the wisdom not to do things that will hurt your and to be able to recognize favorable outcomes when they arise.
Become tougher and antifragile through trial and error. Try new things and find out through a process of trial and error what works and what doesn’t. If an idea doesn’t work, make it fail quickly then move on to the next one. Play safe in some areas of your life and take some risks in others.
And this my dear friend is your Quest – Become a VUCA warrior!
We all have in mind a romanticized idea of what explorers look like i.e., a Marco Polo, a Christopher Colombus or a Ferdinand Magellan surely fit that explorer stereotype. We should also include Hollywood characters such as Indiana Jones and Lara Croft in that list. Those explorers and adventurers are truly exceptional individuals with a very special set of skills and a level of courage and determination that set them apart from the rest of us. For sure those explorers have been real trailblazers and we should give them the respect and recognition that they deserve, but from my perspective, we are all explorers.
We are all Explorers. You don’t have to be a thrill junkie to be an explorer
We don’t have to be navigators, scientists, archaeologists, or adrenaline junkies to be an explorer. You can call yourself an explorer as soon as you decide to start a journey of discovery that will unveil some hidden knowledge, myths, truths, and lies about the world as we know it. What you need is a little bit of courage.
Courage is the most important of all virtues, because without courage you cannot practice any of the other virtues consistently.
You don’t have to be a thrill junkie to be brave. Being brave is waking up every day to face all that life is throwing at you with courage and determination. Being brave is being able to stand strong in the face of rejection, and criticism and continue to work on your life purpose without loss of enthusiasm. Being brave is being able to be alone without feeling lonely because it is in solitude that you can hear that little voice inside you who has been trying to tell you what you already know deep down but you were too busy being distracted by all the noise around you. Being brave is taking care of your body, mind, and spirit and make yourself strong, healthy and resilient each and every day.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”.
We are all explorers. Photo featuring Joanne Reed in the desert of Saudi Arabia.
We are all Explorers. Step outside your comfort zone`
A comfort zone is an artificial mental boundary within which we maintain a sense of security and out of which we experience great discomfort. Each one of us has our own boundaries that delineate our comfort zone, there isn’t a one size-fit-all-comfort-zone model, but what you must know is that all the comfort zone is concerned with is keeping you inside of it.
A lot of people will have a natural inclination to stay inside their comfort zone even if they are unhappy and unfulfilled, first and foremost because it is familiar and safe, but most of all because they are afraid of the unknown, the risk of failure, and/or being hurt. They would rather stay wrapped up in their little cocoon, preferring to stay warm and cozy. But instead of staying in this warm cosy place, I propose to take you on an exploratory trip where you will get uncomfortable by stepping outside your comfort zone.
Stepping outside your comfort zone will help you grow, but it is important that you do it properly; be mindful of not putting yourself in a situation where you will push yourself to do something that falls way outside your comfort zone to the point of jeopardy. There is a fine line between being courageous and being stupid.
We are all explorers. Photo featuring Joanne Reed in the desert of Saudi Arabia.
According to Professor Andy Molinski who is a professor of organizational behavior at Brandeis University International Business School there are 3 zones when it comes to comfort. The first one is the comfort zone, where you are in a familiar situation and you are experiencing very little anxiety. The second zone is the stretch zone, where you are experiencing some level of anxiety but at a point where you can turn it into motivation and a good productivity level. The third zone is the panic zone where you are experiencing extreme levels of anxiety and where you are feeling completely overwhelmed.
Molinski stresses that the optimal level of discomfort is in your stretch zone. It is important to understand that comfort zone is a subjective concept, and each individual has to understand their tolerance to discomfort. Humans react to new situations differently, it is very possible that what one considers to be their stretch zone might be another’s panic zone. There are several factors that will help you determine your tolerance levels, such as your values and interest, your personality and tolerance to stress. The key is to understand how you work. You need to know yourself. Having that kind of insight relies on a great deal of self-awareness and if you are unsure, the only way to find out is to experiment.
We are all Explorers. Start looking at life with a sense of curiosity
We are all explorers. Photo featuring Joanne Reed in the desert of Saudi Arabia.
What you need is to start looking at life with a sense of curiosity. You want to become an explorer. You want to keep learning and growing. Be open and receptive. Become involved in life. Be in the arena. You want to venture to places you haven’t been to before. You want to do things you haven’t done before.
You want to connect and engage with people you wouldn’t normally interact with. You want to taste new dishes. You want to climb to the top of a mountain, canoe across a lake, ride your bike to work, or walk barefoot in the grass. You want to sing in the shower, dance in the living room and have pajama parties with your friends. You want to wear outrageous and colorful clothes. You want to dance in the rain ad get wet.
You want to take your time to think and pause and meditate, to reflect on who you are and what you want to be. You want to gaze through a window and breathe, taking in the beauty of the scenery.