Categories
Quotes

The World Is A Masquerade!

What is the biggest problem with the world today?  There are endless problems in the world. Too many to list, but I was thinking that it would be an intellectually challenging exercise to try to put my finger on it. A foolish endeavor you may think. Maybe. Only a fool or a Wise Man could seriously pretend to know the answer to this question.  I happen to know a wise and eccentric philosopher (Bertrand Russell) who pondered over this question and who came up with an answer that is quite remarkable. The world is a masquerade. We are run by fools and fanatics.

“The Problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people are always full of doubts.”

Bertrand Russell

The world is a masquerade. We are run by fools and fanatics

We are run by fools. The fool is grandiose (borderline annoying), confident (borderline arrogant), flamboyant (borderline tacky) and walks through life feeling absolutely certain about everything. And then you have the fool-clown who is not grandiose, not confident and not flamboyant; he is just a clown. A fool is set in his opinions and feels that he has a duty to share his way of thinking about this and that and everything important. There are 2 types of fools. The first type is the one that does not care to take counsel from others nor listen to their opinions. The second one is the one who takes counsel and opinions only from people he knows will echo his own way of thinking, shielding himself (in the process) from any kind of responsibility if things gets wary.

The fool has no fluidity of mind and is set in his ways. New opinions are rejected and opposed just because they don’t fit the accepted idea and concepts that the fool has adopted as hard truth. The fool’s arrogant certainty about everything is set in stone and even King Arthur would not be able to dislodge him from that position. The problem with the fool is that he doesn’t know enough to know that he doesn’t know about the things he thinks he knows. He hasn’t got enough self-awareness to realize that what he knows is only half the story.

“In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. ”

Erasmus.

The fanatic is not a fool because he is a true believer in his cause but just like the fool, he feels absolute and resolute certainty in his belief. The fanatic refuses to hear and contemplate opposing views. You can find fanatics in all areas of life religion politics, media, and the entertainment industry. Fanatics can be leaders or followers, they are people who indulge in a toxic concoction of self-affirming, know-it-all attitude backed up by half-knowledge; they believe they have access to absolute truth, truth so perfect that they have to impose them on everyone.

It is not what they believe that makes them fanatics, it is how they believe it – no need to provide further evidence, no need to question or doubt. They operate in an irrational and emotional manner hiding their irrationality by rehearsed arguments that have been repeated and learned over time, not refreshed updated, or put to test. The truth does not matter anymore, repetition does.

“Some things are believed because they are demonstrably true. But many other things are believed simply because they have been asserted repeatedly.”

Thomas Sowell

Hence the critical role of the media who are guilty of spreading a certain type of sensational narrative that makes people either afraid or angry. Hence the need to look for a boogeyman to vent their anger on. Fanatics are highly emotional and rigid in their thinking. The problem with this is that nothing is really certain what is true today may not be true tomorrow.

“Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position, but certainty is an absurd one.”

Voltaire.

The world is a masquerade. We are swimming in an ocean of stupidity.

According to Robert Greene what really causes human stupidity is not ignorance but half knowledge. When you are ignorant you are humble, you don’t put yourself out or volunteer to do something that you have no knowledge of. I know nothing about plumbing. Knowing that, I am not going to suddenly try to fix the plumbing in my house when the tap leaks because that would be an act of rampant stupidity. Stupidity is actions that lead to unintended consequences, stupidity can lead to economic disasters, wars, and all kind of unpleasant things.

Take the case of someone who thinks that they are pretty smart because they have read a few books and have done a few searches on the internet and on Wikipedia. Based on that initial research, that person goes into full action mode and makes important decisions having only seen half of the picture.  People who are doing this, are generally falling into confirmation bias, they are looking for the kind of information that confirms their set-in-stone-belief. Low and beholds things don’t turn out the way they expected, chaos ensues, and bad things start happening. The problem is that that person became too certain. The little bit of knowledge that they’ve done makes them think they know the answer. They get filled with excitement, certainty, and conviction and they go charging into action and the opposite of what they expected happens. They react and make things worse and more unintended consequences occur with a kind of cascading effect. And now, they find themselves swimming in tumultuous waters.

People who know enough about a subject don’t actually feel so certain about it, because they realize that the situation is more complex and therefore, they kind of tamp down the emotional surge, and enthusiasm. People who act outrageous based on their convictions are usually trying to convince themselves more than anything else. And if they can drag some unsuspected souls with them into that sea of ‘certainty’ all the better because it feels ‘safer’ to be wrong amongs the crowd than be right outside of it.

“Ideologies are substitutes for true knowledge and ideologues are always dangerous when they come to power, because a simple-minded-I-know-it-all approach is no match for the complexity of existence.”

Jordan Peterson.

Jordan Peterson has an interesting solution to help people avoid unintended consequences following stupid acts. He calls it the the death of stupid. Let’s say you are an animal, and you act stupid in the middle of the jungle. The result of your stupid act is that you die. Imagine that there is a box with a snake in it and your coffee cup is inside the box with the snake in it. Imagine you are picking up the coffee cup. Then the snake bites you and you die. Based on this, you decide that picking up the coffee cup with the snake in the box is probably not a good idea, so that stupid idea has to die instead of you. The idea is that human beings should develop several versions of themselves, several avatars. Then they should put those avatars in various simulations/scenarios to see which one of those scenarios/projections should die and which one should be given the time of day. If you are smart enough and you live your life like the Wise Man of Greece does, you should be humble enough to let your stupidity die before it kills you.

The world is a masquerade. The Wise Man is the only one that can save the day

“The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.”

Socrates.

According to the Wise Man of Ancient Greece, you may find the path to wisdom, if you start from a position of humility and if you accept the extent of your ignorance. A lot of us like to think of ourselves as pretty smart, rational individuals and funny too. But what if we’re wrong? What if we are just fools and fanatics completely blind to our own failings?

We should try to act more like the Wise Man of Ancient Greece. The Wise Man is humble in his knowledge, and because he knows that there are so many things that he doesn’t know he has doubts. The Wise Man understands that someone else may have knowledge that he doesn’t have, he is also able to think critically about things and will take time to look into things more deeply; and this could lead him to change his opinion on this and that. Nothing is set in stone. The Wise Man has a fluidity of mind; he is not rigid in his view and his pursuit of the truth will lead him to question everything. Be open to learn, unlearn and relearn.

And this my dear friend is your Quest.

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

Happy International Women’s Day!

Today, we celebrate women. Happy International Women’s Day to all the women out there! Remember to be your own fabulous self today and every day! Dream what you want to dream. Go where you want to go. Be what you want to be. Ride your own wave. March to your own beat, sing your own songs, write your own book and wildly dance to your own rhythm like nobody is watching. Don’t be afraid to shine your light as far and as wide as you can and remember that

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save. They just stand there shining”

Anne Lamott.

Today’s blog article is dedicated to women from every corner of the world; it is a snapshot of my thoughts, vision and aspirationS for women, but most of all it is a celebration.

Let’s celebrate international women’s day by being ourselves

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Be yourself. Photo by Alize Reed featuring Joanne Reed

Your Quest my dear, is not to find yourself but to create yourself. Make your life a work of art, because that is the only place where you can do whatever you like and tremember that to give style to one’s character is a great and rare art.

“Consider making your life a work of art. You have yourself to begin with and a time of uncertain duration to work on it. You do not have to be who you are, even though you may be quite content with who and what you are; it will not be hard for you to think of something greater than you might become; it need not be something spectacular or even something that will attract any notice from others. What it will be is a kind of excellence that you project for yourself and then attain. Something you can look at with honest self-appraisal and be proud of. Make your life a work of art!”

Richard Taylor.

Don’t let people put you in a box and stick a label on it before they even get the chance to know you. You are the sum total of your genetics, your upbringing, but also the books you read, the countries you travel to, the ups and downs that can be on your path. Respect people but do not worship them. Be a giver, but give yourself enough time and space to advance your interests too. Today you can decide to be as exuberant and as colorful as you want and tomorrow, you can decide to be as dull as the grey sky if you feel like it.

In order to create yourself, you need to be courageous. Being courageous doesn’t mean that you have to do bold spectacular acts of bravery and become a hero. You don’t have to be a hero, just have the courage to be yourself. Courage can show up in a very quiet manner and in thousands of unexpected ways. Deciding not to fight can sometimes be as courageous as charging into battle. Forgiveness requires a lot of courage. Learning a new skill, starting a new business venture, stepping outside your comfort zone requires a lot of courage. Standing up to bullies and speaking your mind requires a fair dose of courage. Falling in love, letting your guards down can be an act of courage. Staying positive and upbeat when facing setbacks, ill-health, old age or even death requires a lot of courage.

Let’s celebrate international women’s day by looking after our body and our mind

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. Have a fighting spirit but choose your battles carefully. Some fights are worth fighting and others aren’t.

When the going gets tough, be tougher. Sure thing, but how?! You can become tougher by removal. The solution to many problems in life is solved by removal, not by addition. Living a healthy life is more about removing sugar, processed food, and unhealthy snacks from our diet. Similarly, people become wealthy by reducing their exposure to going bust. Professional athletes win games by removing mistakes.

“Above all do not lose your desire to walk everyday. I walked myself into a state of well-being and walked away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thoughts so burdensome that one cannot walk away from”

Soren KierKegaard

You can become tougher by optionality. The more options you have, the more freedom you have to respond to unforeseen circumstances, thus reducing your fragility to unexpected 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 yourself and to be able to recognize favorable outcomes when they arise. You can become tougher through trials and errors. Try new things and find out through a process of trials and errors 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.

Looking after your mind means setting aside some quiet time to learn the art of being still. Practicing stillness is an essential life lesson that is being taught by wise men. Let’s be guided by the words of two wise men, Socrates, and Blaise Pascal.

Learn the art of being still. Photo by Alize Reed – La Savanne – Ile de la Reunion

According to Socrates: “The source of all wisdom and clarity is to know thyself.” And according to Blaise Pascal “, All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone”.

Too often our minds are caught in a cycle of stimulus and mindless distractions, practicing the art of being still will definitely help you unclutter your mind and help you get accustomed to being in your own company, free to let your mind wander wherever it wants to go.

Being still is not an easy state of being, humans are social creatures by nature, we dread boredom, and we are unfit to endure extreme cases of isolation. If we are alone for too long our mental faculties can degrade leading to a state of insanity and deep despair. The use of solitary confinement and exile are effective tools of punishment.

But our modern-day fears are not restricted to extreme cases of isolation, rather many of us fear being alone for any period of time, and being alone is something to be avoided at all costs. Not only are we afraid of being alone individually, but we are also afraid of those around us who seem to be very happy in their own company. We see them as dangerous, unsocial, or maybe even unwanted.

The paradox these days is that we have never been so connected to each other and feel so alone at the same time. Information technology is everywhere, the invention of the radio, the telephone, television, mobile phone, and the internet has brought us closer together allowing anyone in the world instant access to another person via video conference call. These days, you just have to press a button and instantaneously you are transported to the other side of the world. The problem is, we now live in a world where we are connected to everyone except ourselves.

A paradox of stillness is that it requires you to think very deeply, but also clear your mind. In fact, this is not a paradox as once our mind is cleared and emptied insights and breakthroughs can occur. Muddy waters clear themselves through stillness; if we let them settle the truth will be revealed to us. Another paradox is that stillness does not require that you stop moving or even to be somewhere quiet, stillness can be cultivated while chaos swirls around you. Those moments, in a busy shopping mall or airport, when somehow all the external noise is filtered out and you feel a sense of calm and can focus on what is in your control, that is stillness.

Stillness is an important tool on your journey to find clarity. The ability to see clearly not only when you are meditating, but in the midst of conflict when you are frustrated, angry, or scared, will help you find a more logical, less emotional response, and give you choices to do things differently, or do nothing at all.

Let’s celebrate international Women’s Day by Being like water

Be like water. Photo featuring Alize Reed by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

Rivers represent the source of life and the forward motion of time. Rivers also symbolize the power of nature and impermanence and change that are inherent in our existence. Cities and towns often spring up on riverbanks, seemingly brought to life by the water source and the fertility of the surrounding soil. Rivers capture our imagination, not just as a physical body of water, but more like a symbol of life, strength, freedom, and much more; something that we should emulate

You cannot touch the same water twice because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of your life. The beauty is in the journey.  We are always doing things for the first time, and the landscape will always be new as we move along our life journey. Let’s try to face any novelties with joy and not with fear because it is pointless to fear what cannot be avoided.

Rivers move continuously as if nothing can stop them, they are always in a forward motion, just like our lives which we cannot rewind except in our imagination.  We should not wallow in our past suffering or unpleasant memories. Instead of becoming stuck in the past or worrying about what could or could not have been, we should move on with our lives focusing on the present moment and what we can do at this very moment to improve our lives.  

Through twists and turns and numerous obstacles, rivers negotiate their way until they reach their destination. They flow fast when the terrain is favorable and when they encounter difficult obstacles, they negotiate their way around them. Stones should be avoided as much as possible. Trying to break a stone is a waste of your time and energy. Go around them.

The same applies to our life. We should apply ourselves to take advantage of favorable circumstances and negotiate our way through problems and difficulties. We should be flexible in our approach and avoid acting with the rigidity of a rock. We should practice the art of humility, surrender to the circumstances, and go with the flow when the circumstances recommend us to be flexible. But being flexible doesn’t mean that we should bend backward to everything and everyone. It means that we should choose our battles carefully. Some fights are worth fighting and others aren’t so. When comes a time for us to be strong and bold we should emulate the strength of water rapids coming down the valley with purpose and intent.

River flow is not constant, sometimes it runs fast when the terrain is favorable, other times it stops flowing joyfully when it enters a hole or encounters dry season. The only way to get out of this dry hole is to call on time as your ally. Call for patience and perseverance, the dry season will not last forever. When the right moment comes the hollow fills up and the water can flow again.

Rivers represent the forward motion of time. Rivers symbolize the impermanence and change that are inherent in our existence. Time is of the essence; it is the most valuable asset each person has. Every day when we wake-up, each one of us has the same amount of time to live a meaningful life, to learn, to give, to share, to experience, to make a difference, to be who you really want to be.

“Water is fluid, soft and yielding. But with time water will wear away rock which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox. What is soft is strong.”

Lao Tzu

And this my dear friend is Your Quest. Happy International Women’s day and remember to be your own fabulous self today and everyday.

Personal Note

I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication. DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice. DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category. Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject 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

How To Win Everyday Battles

Life is a battlefield. Nothing is easy, we have to fight our way through everything, and with this in mind, it would be a good idea for us to know how to win every day battles and to familiarize ourselves with combat strategy and learn the best tricks in the book from trained warriors.

War is part of life, it is in the nature of most living organisms to engage in battle, defeat their opponents, assert power and dominate. With humans, we see this happens 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.

Sun Tzu (544–496 BC) was a Chinese military commander strategist and philosopher who wrote the most influential treatise on war ever written. The Art of War consists of 13 chapters each of which is devoted to the strategic and tactical aspects of warfare; it explains in detail how to behave in battle but more importantly how to win.

You can win everyday battles by being smart — use intelligence over brute force.

How to win everyday battles – You can win everyday battles by being smart. Use intelligence over brute force. Photo by Warmtall via freepik.com

Sun Tzu emphasizes the use of intelligence over brute force and teaches us how to win battles the smart way. He believes that winning the war with as little unnecessary combat as possible is the key to true victory. Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting and the key to doing so is to know your enemy. If your opponent is arrogant, pretend to be weak, so he will underestimate your capability. If he was relaxing, attack and give him no rest. If his forces are united separate them. Sun Tzu is essentially saying if you know your opponent’s weaknesses and know how to exploit them you will never lose a battle.

“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

Sun Tzu claimed that the highest victory is defeating the enemy without fighting. Unfortunately, this ideal isn’t always an option. That’s 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.

“It is more important to outthink your enemy than to outfight them. All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when we are far away we must make him believe we are near.”

Sun Tzu

Aside from specific tips on combat, the Art of War has a profound philosophical side to it. Sun Tzu argues that war shouldn’t be taken lightly, and that the highest warfare is defeating the enemy without fighting and that being still and inscrutable is the business of a general. The beauty of the Art of War is that its wisdom can be applied to our modern lives as well. The book emphasizes the importance of good preparation. The underlying philosophy is that victory and defeat are already decided before the battle is fought. It is important to find balance and inner peace when going to war, we shouldn’t be too reckless but not act too cowardly either.

You can win everyday battles by not waiting for the calvary to save you because you are the cavalry

How to win everyday battles – You can win everyday battles by not waiting for the calvary to come and save you, you are the cavalry. Photo by Warmtall via freepik.com

But sometimes being smart is not enough, especially if you have brute force all around you. The cavalry ain’t coming. You are the calvary. When push comes to shove and you have no choice but fight, get into the arena and fight like your life depends on it, because it does.

No one battlefield look alike, they come in all shapes and form. We have a tendency to portray battlefields with imagery of soldiers being stuck in trenches firing at each other or imagery of civilians having to hunker down the basement whilst bombs are being dropped from the sky; some battlefields are not so obvious to spot but they are there, nonetheless. Whether you realize it or not you are living in a world where psychological warfare, information warfare, financial warfare, spiritual warfare is a common occurrence. There is a battle that is happening right now that is unfolding in front of our eyes, it is the battle for our thoughts, our sovereignty, our humanity.

In military strategy, before combat units are sent to combat zones, they have first to learn the art of mobility, protection, and precision firepower. In the military world, the ability to maneuver cross-country and in the most restrictive terrain is essential. During World War II tanks brought tactical mobility to the battlefield, they helped reduce the number of casualties, and disrupted the enemy through decisive action.

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 platform to tell you how to think and how to act. You can think for yourself. 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, think for yourself. If you know how to observe, listen, think, and act accordingly, you become a dangerous person.

How to win everyday battles – If you know how to listen, think, and act accordingly you become a dangerous person. Photo by Warmtall via freepik.com

In the military world, when you have a good protection system in place you maximize the mission performance with minimum casualties. Psychological operations (PSYOP) are a vital part of military strategy. PSYOP enhances combat power and offers some level of protection from the enemy, through the use of information, and disinformation.

Once you are positioned strategically, you can use your firepower against the enemy. Overwhelming precision direct firepower will have the effect of intimidating, demoralizing your adversaries, and imposing unacceptable costs on the aggressor, leading to victory. 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.

In life, some battles are worth fighting for and others aren’t. Some situations may require an immediate response, others may not. Sometimes patience is required. Do not come rushing and roaring at your targets because this could be the easiest way you can lose them from your grasps. Take a step back and think of the best approach. Sometimes to be successful, you have to forgo speed and aggression; slow down, listen closely, and wait for the perfect timing. Focus on your goals, quietly and silently. And then when the time is right, trust your instincts, take action with swiftness and confidence. Balance all the possibilities before you make a huge decision and act swiftly when required.

And this my dear friend is how you can win everyday battles.

Personal Note

I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication. DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice. DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category. Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject 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

I Am So Looking Forward To The Year Of The Tiger


Happy New Lunar Year to all my family, friends, followers, and readers! The Lunar Year is linked to one of 12 zodiac animals each possessing its own character traits. The animals consist of Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. The Chinese zodiac finds its origin 2000 years ago in ancient China which was then ruled by the Qin Dynasty. As the legend goes, the emperor of the time challenged all the animals in the kingdom to join in a Great Race. Whoever arrived at the palace first would win its favor. Twelve animals turned up for the race. As a reward for turning up, years were named in the order in which each animal finished the race. In first place was the Rat who cunningly rode on the back of the Ox as he crossed the river and proceeded to shoot off to the finish line. The Tiger ended up placing third after the cunning Rat and the Ox snuck in ahead of him.

Looking forward to the year of the Tiger …

The Year of the Tiger . Photo by Maryna Quramchuk via freepik.com

According to people who know how to decipher those zodiac signs, the year of the Tiger will be about making big changes. The Tiger sets the tone for what feels like a more promising time after the tough work and energy expended during the year of the Ox and the year of the Rat. The year of the Rat (2020) was about survival and the year of the Ox (2021) was about anchoring ourselves in a new reality, plowing and working patiently and diligently on the ground for a forthcoming harvest which we hope will be plentiful.

This year will be a year of risk-taking and adventure. We are finding enthusiasm again, both for ourselves and for others. Everybody is fired up, generosity of at an all-time high and social progress feels possible again. Tigers do things their own way and hate being told what to do. Expect things to rapidly change this year. After the steadfastness and resilience required to plow through 2021, fittingly symbolized by the Chinese zodiac’s Ox, the powerful tiger is ready to roar and act swiftly and decisively. This Tiger year brings with it a sense of fearlessness and momentum, fostering opportunity, financial and entrepreneurial success. It is said that the tiger also drives off evil spirits. Tiger symbolism is most commonly associated with strength and courage, as well as determination and independence. Tigers travel great distances, but they also spend time resting and saving energies, in readiness for their next hunt or battles. Some fights are worth fighting others are not. Tigers are really good at choosing which pursuits is worth their time and energy.

A few things we can learn from the Tiger spirit. The Tiger animal spirit is silent and solitary. Its focus becomes more laser-sharp when there are no distractions, the silence makes it easier to spot any kind of movement nearby. Tigers do not come rushing and roaring at their targets because it is the easiest way they can lose them from their grasp. Take a step back and think of the best approach. Sometimes to be successful in life, you need to forgo speed and aggression; slow down listen closely and wait for the perfect timing no matter how long it takes. When the tiger animal spirit makes you aware of its presence, it will teach you to focus on your goal, quietly and silently. And then when the time is right trust your instinct, take action with swiftness and confidence. Persistence, patience, and hard work will lead you to success. Balance all the possibilities before you make a huge decision and act swiftly when required. Rely on your personal strength when you need motivation, determination, or courage.

Looking forward to a year when divide and conquer is a thing of the past…

The Year of the Tiger . Photo by Maryna Quramchuk via freepik.com

Divide and conquer is a strategy that has been used from the beginning of time and is still being used today. Peasants vs. Aristocrats, Rich vs. poor, Black vs. White, Christian vs. Muslim, Men vs. Women, Straight vs. Gay, Left vs. Right, Vaccinated vs. Unvaccinated and the list goes on. Making people fight against each other serves the purpose of the elite; but this strategy is not working anymore, because people are not duped anymore, they can see through the veil of deception, contradictions, and lies.

“The man who is free is the one who knows.”

Unknown Author

So, instead of relying on someone else to tell you what to think and what to do open your eyes, open your ears, open your heart, exercise independent judgment, take responsibility, and become self-reliant. If someone tells you that there is a hailstorm outside, and another person is telling you that it is bright and sunny outside; your job is not to believe and repeat those two contradictory statements, your job is to open your front door, step outside and see for yourself if it is stormy or sunny.

“The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity.”

Rollo May

According to the psychologist Rollo May, one of the ways conformity manifests itself in society is through blind obedience and a pathological need to follow rules. Most people believe that to be a good person you have to be a compliant person and do what one is told by those in position of political powers backed up by their lackeys in the media and celebrity culture. Those who act with blind obedience remain blissfully ignorant of the fact that government rules can be immoral.

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 be able to legally cut half of someone’s brain out for being gay.

The problem these days is that people who value social conformity are so self-righteous that they feel the need to impose their views on those who are more fluid in their thinking. It wouldn’t be so bad if the conformists would just be happy to conform and permit those who can exercise independent judgment the freedom to make their own choices. No, that is not how things work these days; we live in an era where you are not permitted to think for yourself anymore, if you dare to do so, the thought police will make sure to penalize you, de-platform you, censor you, so that you can’t express those “unacceptable views” anymore. We are now living in a society where you can’t say or do anything without having to ask some authorities for permission; but if you are inhabited by the Tiger spirit you would know that “a Tiger doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of Sheep.”

I am really looking forward to 2022 as I believe that more and more people are inhabited by the courageous spirit of the Tiger, they are ready to roar and make themselves heard.

And this my dear friend is your Quest.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject 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

Categories
Be Happy

The 7 Most Important Lessons I Learned This Year

It is customary during this time of the year to reflect on our achievements and take stock of what we learned. In this article, I would like to share with you the seven most important lessons I learned this year. 2021 is getting to a close. Thank goodness for that. We survived another year living in a world where a lot of things don’t make sense anymore, where things are getting crazier by the day, where everything seems to be upside down.

People spent the last two years feeling worried anxious scared, and helpless. Human beings are fragile animals, but we are also resilient rational beings with foresight, discernment, and the ability to survive and even thrive in challenging times. My motto is when the going gets tough get tougher. I have no qualms about leaving 2021 behind me wishing for next year to be much less insane.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my readers and followers. Thank you for your continuous support and love.

May you all have Peace and Clarity. To be the first to latch on your door, and Happiness to be guided to your home, by the candlelight of Christmas. May you have the strength to take the first step of many to where you want to go. May you have the grace wisdom and courage, to persist in things worth doing, and find solace in the knowledge that, that in itself is remarkable.

Joanne Reed

Lesson 1: We should all walk the path of the warrior – Life is a battlefield

The 7 most important lessons I learned this year. Photo featuring Alize Reed by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving . Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta- Davranche @lartisanecouture

Life is a battlefield. Nothing is easy, we have to fight our way through everything, and with this, in mind, it would be a good idea for us to familiarize ourselves with combat strategy and learn the best tricks available from trained warriors. In military strategy before combat units are sent to combat zones, they have first to learn the art of mobility, protection and decision firepower.

No one battlefield look-alike they come in all shapes and forms. We have a tendency to portray battlefields with imagery of soldiers being stuck in trenches firing at each other or imagery of civilians having to hunker down the basement whilst bombs are being dropped from the sky; some battlefields are not so obvious to spot but they are there, nonetheless. Whether you realize it or not you are living in a world where psychological warfare, information warfare, financial warfare and spiritual warfare is common occurrence.

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.

In life you have to choose your battles carefully; some battles are worth fighting for and others aren’t. Some situations may require an immediate response others, may not. Sometimes patience is required. Do not come rushing and roaring at your targets because this could be the easiest way you can lose them from your grasps. Sometimes to be successful you have to forgo speed and aggression; slow down, listen closely and wait for the perfect timing. Focus on your goals, quietly and silently. And then when the time is right, trust your instincts, take actions with swiftness and confidence. Balance all the possibilities before you make a huge decision and act swiftly when required.

For a more detailed analysis, I invite you to read the full article I wrote on this subject.

Lesson 2: No one wants to hear this but most of us are being mind-controlled

Where does human behavior come from? Behavior comes from our perception of an event or a situation. Where does perception come from? Perception comes from information received be it from personal experience newspapers or media. Controlling human perception can therefore become a weapon used to control what people think. The best way to do this would be to filter or censor the type of information that the public receives, or by using deceptive tactics such as subterfuge propaganda or misinformation to make the public believe something that is not true.

We are comfortable in our echo chambers, devoid of people and ideas who challenge our own beliefs and we are rarely thinking about how our own biases affect how we think about world. We expect Facebook,Twitter, TikTok and Google to filter the truth for us rather than putting in the hard work to do some thinking for ourselves. Some social media posts go viral in minutes after they are posted whether they carry with them the truth or an exaggeration of the truth or total falsehood.

And then you have repetition, which is another powerful tool to manipulate people’s psyche. There is a term for this in psychology it is called the Illusory Truth Effect also known as the Reiteration Effect which is the tendency to believe the information to be correct (even if it is not) after repeated exposure to that same information. Repeated affirmation fixes itself in the mind in such a way that it is accepted in the end as a demonstrated truth. Many studies have been conducted on this, and the conclusion is that familiarity overcomes rationality. No one wants to hear this but the truth does not matter anymore repetition does [Feel free to feel outraged]!

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what is not true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true”

Soren Kierkegaard

For a more detailed analysis, I invite you to read the full article I wrote on this subject.

Lesson 3: That is why we should think for ourselves instead of letting other people do the thinking for us

The 7 most important lessons I learned this year. Photo featuring Alize Reed by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving . Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta- Davranche @lartisanecouture

Essential life lessons: before you assume, learn the fact. Before you judge understand why. Before you hurt someone feel. Before you speak think. Thinking is part of what makes us human. What differentiates humans from animals is our cognitive abilities such as fully developed language reasoning capabilities, and the ability to make plans for the future. We are all born with the capacity to think but not everyone is capable of critical thinking, and it is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced with discipline.

Critical thinking means many things, but at heart it is a search for the truth. Critical thinking helps us determine what is real and what it is not. But before we are able to exercise our cognitive ability to think critically, we need to have a certain base of knowledge as a starting point. We can only think critically about things we have knowledge of; we don’t have the structures in place to think deeply if we haven’t spent time mastering a body of knowledge related to that thinking.

We all like to think of ourselves as rational, strategic creatures, but in reality, humans are deeply irrational and are often governed by emotion rather than logic.

“The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.”

Thomas Sowell

For a more detailed analysis, I invite you to read the full article I wrote on this subject.

Lesson 4: Because things are not what they seem first impression deceives many the intelligence of a few perceive what has been carefully hidden

The 7 most important lessons I learned this year. Photo featuring Joanne Reed by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving . Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta- Davranche @lartisanecouture

The truth is not the truth anymore. Video games aren’t real life. Gambling isn’t really investing. Social media isn’t really social. The news isn’t real facts anymore but more like a propaganda machine. If you live in a tyrannical society would you know it?

The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and the make the guilty innocent. The media will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. This is the sort of propaganda tactic that I would call psychological warfare.”

Malcolm X

The mind is strange in the way that it picks and chooses what it want to see. The way people let their emotions conditions and state of mind guide their perspective ultimately decides who they are as a person.

Maya Reed

The eyes are useless when the mind is blind.

African Proverb

For a more detailed analysis, I invite you to read the full article I wrote on this subject.

Lesson 5: Honey don’t follow the crowd they are lost

The 7 most important lessons I learned this year. Photo featuring Joanne Reed by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving . Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta- Davranche @lartisanecouture

In order to stay sane our brain create the illusion that all our thoughts are completely rational and independent. But no matter how independent-minded you think you are it is easier and unknowingly more seductive to follow a widely accepted dogma than create your own. Human beings have a natural desire to be accepted into a group or community. Being an outsider is not a good place to be it is lonely and uncomfortable. That is why a lot of people prefer to follow the crowd without realizing that it could lead straight to the slaughterhouse.

Numerous studies have confirmed the fact that the actions of a large group greatly influence an individual’s decision. Pushed by the herd people act the same way or adopt similar behaviors as people around them ignoring their own feelings in the process. Are most humans sheeple? Sheep are docile, compliant, kind, quite pleasant animals and very tasty too; being described as a sheep has no doubt pejorative connotations. The truth of the matter is that most of us are more sheepish than we might like to admit it and we would rather follow the crowd wherever it goes than venture on our own lonely road.

Most people would rather be wrong within the company of the herd than be right outside of it.

Unknown Author

Honey don’t follow the crowd they are lost.

For a more detailed analysis, I invite you to read the full article I wrote on this subject.

Lesson 6:  And please stop asking for permission when you don’t have to

The 7 most important lessons I learned this year. Photo featuring Joanne & Alize Reed by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving . Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta- Davranche @lartisanecouture

From the day we are born we spend our life 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. I say, stop asking for permission when you don’t have to. We grow up with a host of ingrained ideas about what we’re permitted to do or not do. As a child we have to ask permission from our parents to ride our bikes to town. When in school we have to raise our hands and ask the teacher permission to speak or to go to the toilet. At work we have to ask our boss and HR department permission to go on sick leave when we are feeling unwell.

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 lie outside the realms of ownership. There may be broad indifference to whether we act in some way or not. There may be no law and 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 it could be yours.

We are creatures of tradition, systems rules and regulations and we are conditioned to think that we need permission for everything and to act within the confines of what is permitted. I say stop asking for permission when you don’t have to.  Our culture is fascinated by inventors and artists who struck out on their own went strongly against the tide of current opinion and was eventually vindicated even if only after their deaths. We get excited by the stories of their lives because we unconsciously find in them something that’s missing in us: a bold indifference to permission a reminder of our lack of courage and timidity.

For a more detailed analysis, I invite you to read the full article I wrote on this subject.

Lesson 7: And always remember that you can find hope amid uncertainty and conflict

The 7 most important lessons I learned this year. Photo featuring Alize Reed by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving . Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta- Davranche @lartisanecouture

The world currently is filed with fear stress and sadness, and it can become second nature to develop a negative worldview and a feeling of hopelessness. There seems to be more pain than we can heal more dissent than we can mediate and more uncertainty than we can comprehend.

In time like this what can we do to comfort ourselves and the people around us? We can call upon Hope to step into our life. Hope is a powerful antidote to feelings of despair and desolation. Hope acts as the light in the midst of darkness and will bring you renewed optimism and vitality.

We should try not to focus so much on all the negativity that surrounds us but we should learn to focus on all the good things that are happening in the world because it is always there, but it is buried under a thick layer of muck. It is not unusual to find yourself feeling down in the dumps. When this happens, we let our Hope slips away. Thankfully we do not have to let ourselves linger in a hopeless place; if you lift your head up and look around you will find Hope in many places; you can find Hope in a smile a kind word or a hug and some other places too.

Hope triggers a sense of purpose and aspiration during desperate times. Hope provides a haven from pessimism and fear. It galvanizes our courage and mobilizes our energy and vitality. It enhances our mood and our creative thinking.  Hope can be found in small successes. A lot of times we find hope and aspiration in big victories and accomplishments; the problem is large-scale victories and accomplishments don’t happen that often. So don’t forget to celebrate the small victories you will find Hope laying there too.

For a more detailed analysis, I invite you to read the full article I wrote on this subject.

 And this my dear friend, is Your Quest.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject 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

Categories
Be Happy

The Secret to Survive and Thrive in This Crazy World Is That, There Is No Secret

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 get to this Eldorado. I’ve got news for you: the secret to survive and thrive in this crazy world is that, there is no secret.

We are living in a world where everybody’s life is on display for all to see. People will generously display on their social media their amazing lifestyle, careers, looks, clothes, six packs, etc, for all to see. There are two ways to react to those picture-perfect images: they can either motivate you to wake up, dress up, show up and do your thing or they can make you feel like a total failure and red with envy.

We have a tendency to describe certain successful people as lucky because they just happened to be born with talent (that eludes the rest of us) and that talent and maybe a certain amount of luck, is what ultimately made them succeed. Certainly, talent and luck play a role, but if we look a little closer, we will find out as Thomas Edison famously said that “success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

Success is an iceberg. What people see on the surface: confidence, wealth, beauty, relationships, seniority, often don’t see what is hiding below: persistence, failure sacrifice, disappointment, good habits, hard work, and dedication. Some people will pay a tremendous amount of money to get access to gurus, life coaches, influencers in order to obtain their secrets. I repeat. The secret to survive and thrive in this crazy world is that, there is no secret.

The secret to survive and thrive …

The secret to survive and thrive in this crazy world is that there is no secret. Photo by Look Studio via freepik.

All the information we need to survive and thrive in this crazy world is already out there. The only skill you need to find this secret is to know how to use a laptop or a smartphone, and then you need the drive to do something with the information you found online. There are two types of people in this world, marathon runners and sprinters.

Marathon runners are those who are curious enough to observe the world they live in; they ask themselves questions and take the time to look for some answers. Once they have the information, they act upon it. Then you have the sprinters who get excited at every shiny object that sparkles in the distance. They are attracted by the prospect of quick success, they start the race without preparation or training, they lose interest quickly because of the lack of preparation and also because they are lagging way behind the experienced sprinters who spent years working on their skill. So, they end up stopping this race early on deciding to wait on the sideline for the next shiny object to present itself in front of them.

Those who survive and thrive have the fortitude, discipline, willpower, and patience to work on the information they have gathered. Every day they wake, up, dress up, show up, and do their things. Those who are struggling are those who complain all the time, think of themselves as victims, they want the rewards without the pain, they lack discipline, patience, and willpower.

“Timing, and perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”

Christopher Isaac, Co-Founder of Twitter.

The secret to survive and thrive in this crazy world is that, there is no secret

The secret to survive and thrive in this crazy world is that there is no secret. Photo by Look Studio via freepik.

We have a tendency to want to take the quickest, easiest path to our goals, we are impatient and want to see results quickly, but remember “there is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.” The best way to cultivate our natural impatience is to cultivate a kind of pleasure in pain – like an athlete, you come to enjoy rigorous practice, pushing past your limits, and resisting the easy way out.

The motivational speaker Les Brown articulated the concept of struggle and adversity pretty well. What he explained in one of his memorable speeches is that one of the greatest tragedies of our time is the way we perceive success:

“We perceive success as the belief that successful people just happened to be successful because they were lucky enough to have been born with some talent and that talent is what got them there, and destiny is what brought them to the finishing line. That belief is wrong because that kind of thinking takes the journey, the struggles to get to the top of the mountain, the setbacks, the pain, the fear and throws it all out of the window.

It completely mitigates what is most important. In the real world, it doesn’t matter who you are. You are never entitled to a result. Victory is a product of the fight and the biggest favor you can do yourself is to progress through life’s ups and downs and keep fighting the fight. Struggle is perfection in progress. It is a sign that you are in the midst of what separated the great from the average.

It is a necessity, and it is the most important step you will ever take because 99% of people cannot see past it. The world sees struggle and hardship as the time to pack their bags, to walk away, to be intimidated.”

Les Brown

Everybody knows that in order to have a healthy body you have to eliminate toxins as much as possible from your environment, eliminate tobacco and alcohol, eat healthy nutritious food, exercise and keep active. This information is no secret. It is out there, and it is available to everyone. Those people who walk around on the beach in their bikinis with a toned body and a six-pack didn’t get there by accident, they worked on it days in and days out. They didn’t take a secret pill that gave them a fit body overnight, they honed their skill quietly and patiently.

The expectation nowadays is for things to happen instantaneously; and when it doesn’t, we get frustrated even angry. Being patient is a virtue that has been forgotten. We should get re-acquainted with this concept. In public it is the impatient one that grabs all the attention, but patience is a skill that you practice quietly, behind a closed door, just like professional athletes who step away from the limelight taking some time off to heal their injuries so that they can come back stronger, step back in the arena and compete another day.

And this my dear friend, is the secret recipe to your success.

The Secret to survive and thrive in this crazy world is that there i sno secret. Photo by Vectorup Studio via freepik.com

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject 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

Categories
Self-Help Uncategorized

Life Is a Battlefield.

Life is a battlefield. Nothing is easy, we have to fight our way through everything, and 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. In military strategy, before combat units are sent to combat zones, they have first to learn the art of mobility, protection, and precision firepower.

No one battlefield look alike, they come in all shapes and form. We have a tendency to portray battlefields with imagery of soldiers being stuck in trenches firing at each other or imagery of civilians having to hunker down the basement whilst bombs are being dropped from the sky; some battlefields are not so obvious to spot but they are there, nonetheless. Whether you realize it or not you are living in a world where psychological warfare, information warfare, financial warfare, spiritual warfare is common occurrence.

Life is a battlefield – Learn the art of mobility

Life is a battlefield. Photo by freepik via freepik.com

In the military world, the ability to maneuver cross-country and in the most restrictive terrain is essential. During World War II tanks brought tactical mobility to the battlefield, helped reduce the number of casualties, and disrupted the enemy through decisive action. The ability for tanks to maneuver off-road created tactical options for soldiers on the ground, increased their unpredictability and allowed them to surprise the enemy and operate with greater effectiveness.

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 platform to tell you how to think and how to act. You can think for yourself. 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, think for yourself. If you know how to observe, listen, think, and act accordingly, you become a dangerous person.

Life is a battlefield – Learn the art of protection

Life is a battlefield. Photo by freepik via freepik.com

In the military world, when you have a good protection system in place you maximize the mission performance with minimum casualties. Psychological operations (PSYOP) are a vital part of military strategy. PSYOP enhances combat power and offers some level of protection from the enemy, through the use of information, and disinformation.

Intelligence gathering is an important aspect of warfare. Knowledge of the enemy, of the weather conditions, and the terrain are of paramount importance and are used in the planning and conducting of combat operations. During the 1940 Blitzkrieg, the Luftwaffe often struck and bombarded London under the cover of darkness. In order to make it more difficult for the German planes to hit targets, the British Government issued city-wide blackouts. The Royal Air Force (RAF) was able to repel German fighters in part because of the development of new secret radar technology. The onboard Airborne Interception Radar (AI) was invented and first used by the RAF in 1939 and had the ability to pinpoint enemy bombers before they reached the English Channel.

To protect their secret weapon, British Intelligence invented a propaganda campaign that claimed that British Pilots could see in the dark because they ate a lot of carrots! There is no denying the fact that carrots, by virtue of their heavy dose of vitamin A (in the form of Beta Carotene) are very good for the health of your eyes; but this truth was stretched a little by granting carrots the “superpower” of improving your night vision and give you the power to spot enemy planes in the dark?! The truth is that eating carrots does not help you see better in the dark any more than eating blueberries will turn you blue. That said, the carrot campaign of subterfuge helped hide a new technology that was critical to the Battle of Britain, a major campaign fought entirely by air forces and the first defeat of Hitler’s military forces, and to the eventual Allied victory.

Life is a battlefield – Learn the art of precision firepower

Life is a battlefield. Photo by freepik via freepik.com

Once you are positioned strategically, you can use your firepower against the enemy. Overwhelming precision direct firepower will have the effect of intimidating, demoralizing your adversaries, and imposing unacceptable costs on the aggressor, leading to victory. 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.

“The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow.” Jim Hightower.

In life you have to choose your battles carefully; some battles are worth fighting for and others aren’t. Some situations may require an immediate response, others may not. Sometimes patience is required. Do not come rushing and roaring at your targets because this could be the easiest way you can lose them from your grasps. Take a step back and think of the best approach. Sometimes to be successful, you have to forgo speed and aggression; slow down, listen closely, and wait for the perfect timing. Focus on your goals, quietly and silently. And then when the time is right, trust your instincts, take action with swiftness and confidence. Balance all the possibilities before you make a huge decision and act swiftly when required.

Life is a battlefield. Learn the art of mobility, protection, and firepower.

And this my dear friend is your Quest.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject 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

Categories
Be Happy Self-Help

Don’t Put a Label on Me!

Don’t Put a Label on Me. Don’t put me into a box and stick a label on it before you even get the chance to know me. I am not the same person I was when I was 20, 30, 40 years old. I am the sum total of my genetics, my upbringing, but also the books I read, the countries I traveled to, the ups and downs that came on my path. I can be reliable and predictable and also spontaneous and unpredictable. I respect people and choose not to worship them. I am a giver but I need to give myself enough time and space to advance my interests too. I am nice and lovely, but I can be dangerous too. Today I can decide to be as exuberant and as colorful as I want and tomorrow, I can decide to be as dull as the grey sky if I feel like it. I don’t gossip, but I read and write. I am all of that and more and a constant work-in-progress. So please, don’t put a label on me.

Don’t put a label on me. The problem with stereotypes.

Don’t put a label on me – Photo by Yarruta via freepik.com

A stereotype is defined as a simplification of reality, a rigid categorizing – and often discriminatory – representation. A stereotype is a fixed, overgeneralized belief about a particular group or class of people. By stereotyping, we infer that a person has a whole range of characteristics and abilities that we assume all members of that group have.

Stereotypes are like air, invisible but always present.

Unknown Author

For example, saying that women have no sense of direction, that girls suck at math or that football is a man’s sport, are stereotypes. Stereotypes can be positive or negative. Negative stereotypes about women and minority groups are easy to spot, more pernicious are the positive ones, such as men are not in touch with their emotions, black people are good athletes. They don’t seem so pernicious because their content is complementary, but stereotypes are bad even when they are good.

“The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

Adichi Chimaamanda

Stereotypes can be linked to any type of cultural membership, such as nationality, religion, gender, race, or age, but it is important to note that there is a difference between cultural generalizations and stereotypes. Cultural generalizations allow us to understand the patterns of cultures to which one belongs (nation, age, gender, etc…) and it provides the basis on which one can understand other cultures. Cultural generalizations involve categorizing members of the same group as having similar characteristics. Generalizations are flexible and allow for the incorporation of new cultural information. They are a type of hypothesis or guess, of what we expect to encounter when we interact with a certain culture; and this is a good thing.

Generalization is a concept that is flexible and can subsequently lead to increased cultural awareness and thereby improve intercultural relationships. Generalizations become stereotypes when all members of a group are categorized as having the same characteristics. Stereotypes are typically inflexible and resistant to new information. They can, and often do lead to prejudice and intentional or unintentional discrimination. Cultural stereotypes do not allow for individual differences and interfere with efforts to understand an individual on a personal level.

Stereotypes make us lazy and encourage nonchalant judgment because we assume things about people based on stereotypes. It drives and nourishes racism, sexism, and all form of discrimination. I have a strong aversion to labels and being put into a box and I don’t allow people to do that to me. As soon as someone puts a label on you or throw you into a specific box, you lose your identity as a unique and free individual who may or may not fit into that stereotype, and who is free to be whoever they want to be.

Don’t put a label on me. The problem with being put into a box.

Don’t put a label on me – Photo by Yarruta via freepik.com

The problem with being put into a box with a label on it is that it considerably restricts your freedom to think and act the way you want. We are all unique and different from each other. What makes us different is not the color or our skin or our geography, it is the fact that there isn’t another person like us anywhere else. All around us, there are spheres of authority always dictating what we should do, how we should act, and what we ought not to do. Aside from the formal structure like laws, there are also informal powers dictating our actions lifestyles, speech, thought patterns, education, cultural upbringing, religion, politics, etc… This invisible current forces us to travel a certain path, act a certain way, and be a certain type of person. Much of our individualistic tendencies do not develop as freely as we think because we have to conform to societal expectations of ourselves and stay well within the groupthink model.

The next question you should ask yourself is who has an interest in putting people into a box and stick a label on it? People who seek power and control do thrive on sticking a label on you. Because it is easier to control people this way. Once you belong to a certain box you are expected to walk on a straight and narrow line. Venturing outside that path is frown upon. Dissenting views and actions are not allowed because dissent is being viewed as being disloyal to the group. Nowadays if your thoughts and ideas are not in line with the rest of the group you will have to face the new social media Thought Police, because the chance is you are going to get canceled and censored. From a difference of opinion, you can quickly move to fragments of intolerance to violent factions. And just like that you have a 1984-Dystopian-type of society where it is not very pleasant to live in and where Big Brother is watching you all the time with the Thought Police ready to storm in and take you away.

This phenomenon is very much into your face in the political arena, where everything is partisan, and where groupthink ideas are shoved down your throat. The ideas of the group are sacrosanct even if they go against your personal interest because the group knows what’s best for you. When you submit to the group you acquiesce to everything that the group asks you to do. You don’t have to use your ears, your mouth, or your brain anymore. The group tells you where to look and what to see. And if you dare to look the other way and start questioning things, they tell you what you are seeing is not what you are seeing and they proceed to interpret what is going on for you.

One way to free ourselves from the shackle of societal restrictions that impede the originality and flexibility of each person would be to develop our individualism and sense of freedom. Freedom of expression is the lifeblood and cornerstone of a free society, without the freedom to think and express ourselves freely, there is no free society. So, we’d better start thinking for ourselves quickly before it becomes illegal. Don’t get all romantic about your ideas or the ideas that the group promotes. You are not married to those ideas. Some ideas are good and others not so good. Stay free to adhere to the ideas that are congruent with your outlook in life and toss aside anything that makes you uncomfortable.

People should be able to stand for what they think is right. They should be able to fight for what is honorable and acceptable and they should have the freedom to reject what is slimy and unacceptable. The problem these days is that everyone believes that they hold the absolute truth of the matter; except that no one can legitimately claim to have such clarity of mind that they know the absolute truth. Truth is a very fluid concept, what’s true today may not be true tomorrow.

Things change all the time. It is perfectly fine to have strong convictions about this and that, but you should do this with humility. You should hold those convictions and make them contingent on whatever facts, data, arguments, life experience, etc… that come your way with the result that your original convictions can be shaken and made less potent.

You can stand your ground and be open-minded enough to seek common ground. And, don’t try to put a label on me, because I won’t let you.

Joanne Reed

And this my dear friend is your Quest.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject 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

Categories
Be Happy Self-Help

Mind-Blowing!

If you could describe in one word the world we are living in right now, what would it be? Tricky question, right? True, but it is a useful and fun game because it forces you to gather your thoughts in a precise and concise manner and pack everything of importance into one little word! Coming back to my original question, describe the world we are living in right now in one word. I would say, MIND-BLOWING!

According to the Cambridge dictionary, mind-blowing means surprising shocking and often difficult to understand or imagine. Just looking at what is happening around the world right now, I feel like I am on a movie set taking part in a dystopian movie, full of drama, natural disasters (fires, hurricanes, floods), war (overt and covert), topped up by a worldwide pandemic. I wish this could just be a movie that I can pause or stop because really it is a bit too painful to watch; except that we are not on a movie set, we are living in this world I just described. Mind-blowing!

The anger, fear, and desperation are mind-blowing. We are living in an age of despair and fractured communities, the world currently is filled with fear, stress, anger, frustration, rage, and sadness. There seems to be more pain than we can heal, more dissent than we can mediate, and more uncertainty than we can comprehend. People don’t know what to do and where to run to. Where can we run to get away from the fires? Where can we rush to get away from the floods and hurricanes? Where can we escape from the virus? Who can we turn to when we get disconnected from our family, friends, and colleagues because we have very different opinions about what’s going on?

But underneath all that muck there is something good that is happening. Whether we like it or not these past two years forced us into a kind of rehabilitation center where we had to face our fears and come to some harsh realization. i.e there are some things that are essential and there are a whole bunch of things that are not. We have all been forced into this Back-to-basics-religious- kind -of-experience, where food, water, shelter, health, resources (including, human & financial), and connection are of paramount importance. The rest is superfluous. Maybe we had to go through such pain to become more aware and conscious of our purpose and the need for us to become stronger, healthier, more resilient, and more aware.

There has never been so much chaos in recent history, it is mind-blowing

Mind-blowing – Photo by Master 1305 via freepik.com

Life is not always a party; we need therefore to learn how to shoulder the burden of being. Everyone experiences the world through chaos, order, and something in between called consciousness. We eternally inhabit order, surrounded by chaos. Chaos is unexplored territory. Chaos is the sickness or death of a family member. It is the place where you find yourself when things fall apart, when your dream dies, when your career collapses, or your marriage ends. Chaos is where new ideas destroy old and comfortable certainties. Chaos is where your well-thought project is canceled at the last minute because of some force majeure event (pandemic) and the implementation of new regulations. Chaos is when we don’t know where we are. When we don’t know what we are doing and where we don’t know where we are going.

Chaos is a place where everything is complex and unpredictable. Order is explored territory; it is the authority, the structured society. Order is tribe, religion, home, and country. It’s the warm, secure living room where the fireplace glows, and the children play. It’s the flag of the nation. It’s the floor underneath your feet and your plan for the day. It’s the greatness of tradition, the row of desks in a school classroom, the train that leaves on time, the calendar, and the clock. We’re in there when things are going according to plan, and nothing is new and disturbing.

Order is the place where all things turn out the way we want them to. In Order, we’re able to think about things in the long run. There, things work, and we are stable, calm, and competent. We seldom leave places we understand – geographical and conceptual – for that reason. Order is where everything is certain. Order is the political culture, the government, the corporate environment, and the system.

But Order can also be the place where things are so rigid that it’s repetitive and restrictive. Order can be tyrannical when it demands certainty, uniformity, compliance without the right to think critically. Order can become tyrannical when it becomes too one-sided when you preach intolerance in the name of tolerance. Order, when pushed too far, can also manifest itself destructively and terribly and lead you straight to tyranny.

When the ice you’re skating on is solid, that’s order. When the bottom drops out, and things fall apart, and you plunge through the ice; that’s chaos. We eternally occupy known territory, surrounded by the unknown. There are so many ways that things can fall apart or fail to work altogether, and it is those with fortitude and perseverance who valiantly fight their way through chaos who will come on the other side, battered but victorious.

“Order is Masculine, and Chaos is Feminine. Therefore, to move towards Order, we all need to man up.”

John Crace

The solution is mind-blowing: Learn to navigate between order and chaos.

Mind-blowing – Photo by Master 1305 via freepik.com

Order and Chaos are the yang and yin of the famous Taoist symbol: two serpents, head to tail. Order is the white, masculine serpent. Chaos is its black feminine counterpart. The black dot in the white – and the white dot in the black – indicate the possibility of transformation: just when things seem secure, the unknown can loom, unexpectedly and large. Conversely, just when everything seems lost, a new order can emerge from catastrophe and chaos. For the Taoists, meaning is to be found on the border between the yin and the yang, between the ever-entwined pair, i.e. the Middle Way or the Divine Way.

The same idea is expressed in Matthew 7:14: “Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.’

To saddle that fundamental duality is to be balanced: to have one foot firmly planted in order and security and the other in chaos will lead to growth and adventure. Everyone understands order and chaos, good and evil. We all have a palpable sense of chaos lurking under everything familiar. We’ve all been to both places many times. No matter where we are, there are some things we can identify, make use of, and predict, and some things we neither know nor understand. No matter where we are, some things are under our control, and some things are not.

Order is not enough. You can’t just be stable and secure and unchanging because there are still vital and important new things to be learned. Nonetheless, chaos can be too much. You can’t tolerate being swamped and overwhelmed beyond your capacity to cope while learning what you still need to know. Thus, you need to place one foot in what you have mastered and understood and the other in what you are currently exploring and mastering. Then you have positioned yourself where the terror of existence is under control, and you are secure, but where you are also alert and engaged.

So, in order to cope, survive and even thrive in a world that is mind-blowing you have to learn the art of navigating between Order and Chaos.

And this my dear friend, is Your Quest.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject 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

Categories
Self-Help

Stop Asking for Permission When You Don’t Have To.

To seek or not to seek permission? I say, stop asking for permission when you don’t have to.

From the day we are born, we spend our life asking permission for everything. It starts with our parents, our teachers, our boss, our spouse, or our leader, and it goes on and on. I say, stop asking for permission when you don’t have to. We grow up with a host of ingrained ideas about what we’re permitted to do or not do. As a child, we have to ask permission from our parents to ride our bikes to town. When in school, we have to raise our hands and ask the teacher permission to speak or to go to the toilet. At work, we have to ask our boss and HR department permission to go on sick leave when we are feeling unwell.

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 lie outside the realms of ownership. There may be broad indifference to whether we act in some way or not. There may be no law and 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’s no formal procedure, it’s just the courage to imagine it could be yours. The reason why certain ideas haven’t happened isn’t necessarily because they are silly, but because there is a strong and always surprising lack of originality in human conduct.

We are creatures of tradition, systems, rules, and regulations and we are conditioned to think that we need permission for everything and to act within the confines of what is permitted. For most of human history, it was customary to believe that permission to do anything had to be sought from the gods and superior forces that governed the cosmos. We may assume we don’t share this primitive characteristic, but our underlying attitude – in its essential form – suggests we do. We don’t quite know whom we are asking, and we can’t say precisely what approval looks like, but in an archaic part of our minds, we’re still waiting to be given endorsement for our most cherished plans. I say, stop asking permission when you don’t have to.

We want to know from some potent but undefined source that if we act this way, we’ll still be good people, that we won’t be punished that this is allowed, that we won’t bring retribution on ourselves or trouble from the Universe. Our culture is fascinated by inventors and artists who struck out on their own, went strongly against the tide of current opinion, and was eventually vindicated even if only after their deaths. We get excited by the stories of their lives because we unconsciously find in them something that’s missing in us: a bold indifference to permission, a reminder of our lack of courage and timidity.

Stop asking for permission when you don’t have to. You don’t need permission to think the way you think

Stop asking for permission when you don’t have to. Photo by Wayhome studio via freepik.com

In the Dystopian Novel 1984 written by George Orwell, the Thought Police (Thinkpol) are the secret police of the superstate of Oceania, who discover and punish Though Crime, personal and political thoughts unapproved by the regime. Thinkpol uses criminal psychology and omnipresent surveillance via informers, telescreens cameras, and microphones to monitor the citizens of Oceania and arrest all those who have committed Thought Crime in challenge to the status quo authority of the Party and the regime of Big Brother.

Democratic societies assert unequivocally that freedom of expression is part of our human rights. The First Amendment of the US Constitution largely protects Americans from the creepy authoritarian systems found in 1984 and so does the Human Rights Act; Article 10 of the Human Rights Act protects your right to hold your own opinions and express them freely without government interference. This includes the right to express your views aloud (for example through public protest and demonstrations) or through published articles, books or leaflets, television or radio broadcasting, works of arts, the internet, and social media.

Sadly, the scenario envisaged in Orwell’s book 1984 seems to be more reality than fiction. The new Thought Police are Big Tech and the rise of Cancel Culture. We will have to decide as a collective if seeking conformity of thought or language through public shaming is healthy or suffocating. Condoning the censorship road that is being taken by Big Tech is likely to be the road that takes us straight to that place called Tyranny.

“When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing. When you see, that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favor. When you see that men get richer more easily by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them but protect them against you. When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – You may know that your society is doomed” Extract from Atlas shrugged Ayn Rand (1905 to 1982) – Novelist, philosopher, and screenwriter.

Ayn Rand

History is full of examples of crazy things you won’t believe used to be legal, slavery being one of them. 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. Thank goodness, we can rely on Natural Law which is a superior law to the Law of the State to save us from tyranny. Some big thinkers spent time thinking about this concept.

Aristotle is often said to be the father of Natural Law. The Natural Law thesis holds that if a human law fails to be backed up by decisive reason, then it is not a proper law at all. This is captured in the maxim “an unjust law is no law at all”. In his treatise Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes expressed a view of Natural Law as a general rule, by which a man is forbidden to do that which is destructive of his life or takes away the means of preserving the same. According to Emanuel Kant, in a free society, each individual must be able to pursue their goals however they see fit as long as their actions conform to principles governed by reason.

Thomas More’s refusal to acknowledge King Henry VIII as Supreme Head of the Church of England and the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon lead him to be imprisoned and put on trial for treason. During his last remarks to court – defending himself in his trial for treason and knowing in advance his fate of being found guilty for his refusal to assert in writing that the King was the Head of the Church, he made the following arguments to the jury :

“Some men say the Earth is flat and some men say the Earth is round. But if it is flat, could Parliament make it round? And if it is round, could the King’s command flatten it?”

Thomas More

What Thomas More so eloquently expressed during his trial was that the Laws of Nature will force the government to exercise a certain restraint. There is a limit to what a government and/or parliament can legitimately do. That limit is set by Natural Law. Extract from Chapters 7 & 10 of This Is Your Quest.

You don’t need permission to be enlightened or to act with reason

Stop asking for permission when you don’t have to. Photo by Wayhome studio via freepik.com

The 18th century was a period known as the Enlightenment, another term used in the Age of Reason. The concept of a social contract, limited government, consent of the governed, and the separation of power started making an impact on people. New beliefs started spreading such as “all men are created equal” and “a king has no divine rights.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote The Social Contract or Principles of Political Right in 1762. His thinking was that humans are essentially free, but over time they become less and less free because of the mere fact that they live in a society. It is only natural in society to see a ruler emerge and to attract followers, who would happily give up their liberty to be under the ruler’s protection. The question that Jean-Jacques Rousseau asked himself was: “How can we be free and live together without being overpowered by the force and coercion of others? The answer he came up with was: “through a social contract.”

A social contract is a process whereby people will come together and agree to form a new single body called the Sovereign. The Sovereign’s mission is to act for the good of all the people and its critical element is the element of reciprocity. The Sovereign is committed to the good of the individuals who constitute it and each individual is likewise committed to the good of the whole. In the American colonies, more and more people were being influenced by this concept and started to believe that they weren’t receiving their end of the bargain and, gradually started to think that it was their duty to rebel against and disobey laws that were viewed unjustly. The American Revolution began in 1775; the root cause of the revolution can be found in the way Great Britain treated its colony, as some kind of faraway outpost, whose sole purpose was to provide for the needs of Great Britain, and for the American people to be subject to and subservient to the will and power of the Crown.

So, please stop asking for permission when you don’t have to. There is a whole raft of things that fall outside the realms of ownership. Not all our wants and desires need to have a possessor, a licensor, or a permit giver.

And this my dear friend, is Your Quest.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject 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

Categories
Be Happy Self-Help

A Mother’s wish for her daughters

As a mother of two daughters, I was thinking recently about the most precious gifts I could give to them. Something useful and timeless, that they would cherish each and every day. After pondering on the subject for a little bit I came up with 3 gifts ideas in the form of a mother’s wish for her daughters:

1. Learn how to be courageous. You don’t have to be a hero. Just have the courage to be yourself.

2. Have a fighting spirit. When the going gets tough be tougher.

3. Learn to think for yourself.

From the confines of my Island (Ile de la Reunion), my youngest daughter and I had an amazing underwater photoshoot experience thanks to a scuba diver photographer by the name of Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving and an amazing dressmaker by the name of Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture. Those underwater photoshoots are not easy, Alizé got the gist of it fairly quickly. For me, it took a bit longer to get to grip with the technique of trying to look relaxed and not out of breath at the bottom of a pool, but managed eventually. The results are literally breath-taking. There are no tricks on those pictures, just Alizé and me, two amazing dresses, and a scuba diver photographer.

A mother’s wish for her daughters. Learn how to be courageous.

A mother’s wish for her daughters . Courage is the most important of all the virtues. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving featuring Joanne & Alize Reed. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

Being courageous doesn’t mean that you have to do bold spectacular acts of bravery and become a hero. You don’t have to be a hero, just have the courage to be yourself. Courage can show up in a very quiet manner and in thousands of unexpected ways. Deciding not to fight can sometimes be as courageous as charging into battle. Forgiveness requires a lot of courage. Learning a new skill, starting a new business venture, stepping outside your comfort zone requires a lot of courage. Standing up to bullies and speaking your mind requires a fair dose of courage. Falling in love, letting your guards down can be an act of courage. Staying positive and upbeat when facing setbacks, ill-health, old age or even death requires a lot of courage.

Courage is the most important of all the virtues because, without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.

Maya Angelou

The word courage originates from the Latin word Cor (Coeur in French and cuore in Italian) which means heart; in essence, it means ‘to act from one’s heart’. The etymology of the word indicates that when we act courageously, we are activating our inner power and strength which surfaces through our heart’s desire. Courage is the mental preparedness and ability to deal with difficulty, 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 and brave deeds but being courageous does not necessarily entail doing something dramatic or astoundingly heroic, everyday living requires courage. So what is courage? There are many definitions of what courage is. Below are my favorite ones.

A mother’s wish for her daughters . Courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. Photo featuring Joanne & Alize Reed. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

Courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel fear, but he who conquers that fear.

Nelson Mandela

Success is never final failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.

John Wooden

The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow.

Jim Hightower
A mother’s wish for her daughters . Every day living requires courage. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving featuring Joanne & Alize Reed. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

We all have varying degrees of courage. Finding courage can be the choice we make every day, often in the quietest of ways. There is great courage in living life to the fullest, living with authenticity and a sense of alignment with one’s most deeply held values. And sometimes, simply getting up every day and putting a foot in front of another is an act of immense courage.

Barbara Bonner

As Maya Angelou rightly said courage is a virtue and it is the most important one to cultivate because without it you cannot practice any of the other virtues consistently. 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.

And this my dear daughters is Your Quest. Be courageous.

A mother’s wish for her daughters. Have a fighting spirit. When the going gets tough, be tougher.

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. Have a fighting spirit but choose your battles carefully. Some fights are worth fighting and others aren’t.

A mother’s wish for her daughters . Have a fighting spirit. Focus on your goal quietly and silently. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving featuring Alize Reed. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

Choose wisely which pursuits you spend your energies on. Do not waste your efforts on those that will not give you something positive in return. Be determined and independent. If at first, you don’t succeed, try again until you make it. It’s OK not to get it right the first time, so don’t let your failures prevent you from achieving your dreams. Focus on your goals, quietly and silently. And then when the time is right, trust your instincts, take action with swiftness and confidence. Be observant of people and your surroundings. Balance all the possibilities before you make a huge decision and act swiftly when required.

When the going gets tough, be tougher. Sure thing, but how? You can become tougher by removal. The solution to many problems in life is solved by removal, not by addition. Living a healthy life is more about removing sugar, processed food, and unhealthy snacks from our diet. Similarly, people become wealthy by reducing their exposure to going bust. Professional athletes win games by removing mistakes. You can become tougher by optionality. The more options you have, the more freedom you have to respond to unforeseen circumstances, thus reducing your fragility to unexpected 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 yourself and to be able to recognize favorable outcomes when they arise. You can become tougher through trials and errors. Try new things and find out through a process of trials and errors 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 daughters is Your Quest. Have a fighting spirit and when the going gets tough get tougher.

A mother’s wish for her daughters. Think for yourself.

A mother’s wish for her daughters . Think for yourself. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving featuring Joanne & Alize Reed. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

Thinking is difficult, that is why most people judge.

Carl Jung

Before you assume, learn the fact. Before you judge, understand why. Before you hurt someone, feel. Before you speak, think. Thinking is part of what makes us human. What differentiates humans from animals is our cognitive abilities such as fully developed language, reasoning capabilities, and the ability to make plans for the future. We are all born with the capacity to think, but not everyone is capable of critical thinking, and it is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced with discipline. We all think of ourselves as rational, strategic 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. You 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.

A mother’s wish for her daughters. Critical thinking helps you determine what’s real and what it is not. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving featuring Joanne & Alize Reed. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

Critical thinking means many things, but at heart, it is a search for the truth. Critical thinking helps you determine what is real and what it is not. But before you are able to exercise your cognitive ability to think critically, you need to have a certain base of knowledge as a starting point. You can only think critically about things you have knowledge of, you can’t really think deeply if you haven’t spent time mastering a body of knowledge related to that thinking.

The problem these days is that we are living in a world of information overload, data about almost everything is available to all who wish to access it at the click of a button. We are constantly bombarded by a steady stream of information (sometimes misinformation, exaggerations, and mischaracterizations) about a whole range of subject matters, making it very difficult to know what and who to believe. Critical thinking is important because you need this skill in order to navigate your way through all the information, misinformation, and disinformation that is being served to all of us on a daily basis on all media platforms.

Do not relinquish your power to think critically on someone else even if that person goes by the name of Expert. It is important to note that society needs experts because those people know a thing or two about their own area of expertise, they are specialized in their field and are being paid to share their knowledge, wisdom, and experience with the world at large. Having said that, whenever you decide to ask an expert for his advice on a particular matter, I suggest you put your critical thinking hat on to ensure that you fully understand the advice you are being given, the scope and limitations of the adviser’s expertise, his or her ability to see the problem in its proper context, the possibility that these experts may be subject to bias and in the worst-case scenario, the possibility that the expert may be wrong. History is full of anecdotes showing that even the experts can be wrong.

Trying to nail down the authenticity of anything and verify our knowledge about the world is a tall order. We expect Facebook, Twitter TikTok, and Google to filter the truth for us rather than putting in the hard work to do some thinking for ourselves. The problem these days is that the media is trying to spin everything you see and everything you hear. White is black and black is white. Use your discernment, look out for inconsistencies, trust your instinct. Don’t accept things at face value, ask questions, look under the surface, lift the veil.

And this my dear daughters is Your Quest. , think for yourself.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject 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

work it.

Work is part of our lives, and it starts from the day we are born. As brand-new infants, we have to figure out a way to drink that milk that will keep us alive whether it comes directly from our mother or from a bottle, and for a little person, it requires effort and hard work getting through that bottle. As a toddler, we have to work our way through a nursery. As a child we have to start doing some real hard work going through school to learn A, B, C. As young adults we leave high school with our diploma to walk straight into university. After a few years on Campus, we leave with a degree to walk straight into a job that will keep us busy for the next 30 to 40 years, whilst working on building a family and a home at the same time. Finally, we get to have a break in our olden days to enjoy some peace and quiet time during our retirement, where the only work we have to do is to babysit our grandchildren from time to time.

We can’t escape the fact that work is part of who we are and what we do. Some people say work is a curse, and labor is a misfortune, and for sure if we are given the choice to laze around or to do some work, most people would jump at the chance to laze around. But how long can you stay satisfied laying down on your sofa doing nothing? What if we can make work our passion? I say, work it and let’s make our life a work of art.

Work it.

Hard work is always the baseline of great achievements. Photo by wayhome Studio via freepik.com

Being successful at something requires hard work, sweat, tears, discipline, and patience. In the olden days, if you wanted to enter a profession you had to find a master who was willing to take you under his wings and enter into an apprenticeship to learn the craft. The normal length of an apprenticeship was 10 years; learning the craft required patience, discipline, and dedication. The modern concept of this is the 10,000 hours required to master a skill as described by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. Hard work is always the baseline of great achievements.

Robert Greene called this Mastery. He wrote a whole book about it. “

“Anyone who would spend ten years absorbing the techniques and conventions of their field, trying them out, mastering them, exploring and personalizing them, would inevitably find their authentic voice and give birth to something unique and expressive. Embrace slowness as a virtue in itself.”

Robert Greene

Olympians become at the top of their games by investing years of their lives into training, by getting their body ready to perform at its optimum level, and by building the strength of character and mental toughness that is necessary to become a champion; the same applies to your life as well. There is always work to be done and this is best describe by Maya Angelou who wrote a poem titled Women’s work. Below is a short extract from that poem.

Women’s work by Maya Angelou

I’ve got the children to tend. The clothes to mend

The floor to mop. The food to shop

Then the chicken to fry. The baby to dry

I got company to feed. The garden to weed

I’ve got shirts to press. The tots to dress

I gotta clean up this hut. Then see about the sick

And the cotton to pick…

Work of art.

Make your life a work of art. Photo by Wayhome Studio via freepikc.com

For a lot of people, work is just something they have to do to earn a living, put a roof over their head, pay their bills and put food on the table. For the lucky ones (a small minority) work is their passion. Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to turn their passion into their work? For some people finding their passion is easy, they were born knowing what it was; what is less easy is to get started and to do it consistently. For others, finding their passion is not so obvious. The problem is that a lot of people believe that their passion is hiding somewhere, maybe behind a tree or underneath a rock. The truth is that our passion comes first from doing things, and then doing them right.

We should get into the habit of injecting passion, not all the things that we do. If we do this consistently, a time will come when something stands out above all the other things, and that is the very thing that we should devote more time to doing passionately. That’s all there is to it, just do it. Work it! But what if you have no passion to create anything? In that case, the only thing you have to do is to listen to the philosopher Carl Jung.

“If you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself. To give style to one’s character is a great and rare art.”

Carl Jung

How about turning yourself into a work of art? Maybe the healthiest person you could be? Or maybe a deep philosophical thinker? And when you got it, flaunt it.

“Consider making your life a work of art. You have yourself to begin with and a time of uncertain duration to work on it. You do not have to be who you are, even though you may be quite content with who and what you are; it will not be hard for you to think of something greater than you might become; it need not be something spectacular or even something that will attract any notice from others. What it will be is a kind of excellence that you project for yourself and then attain. Something you can look at with honest self-appraisal and be proud of. Make your life a work of art!

Richard Taylor

Work-In-Progress

I like to think of myself as Work-In-Progress. I work hard, perspire a lot during the process. I cry many tears along the way, get deflated when the outcome doesn’t match the input of energy I invested in the project, but I made it my quest to make my life a work of art. When you glance over my work, you are catching a glimpse of my soul. I march to my own beat, and wildly dance to my own rhythm, as I turn my passion into my work. Make your life a work of art.

And this my dear friend is your Quest.

Personal Note

DDI Chat – Personal Growth – One-to-one Chat with Joanne Reed

In addition to publishing my articles on my website, I have also been publishing on Medium. I have been working closely for the past months with Data-Driven Investor (DDI) Publication.  DDI has recently launched a new marketplace/platform where people can book a paid one-to-one session with an expert of their choice.  DDI asked me to join their panel of advisors/experts in the Leadership, Coaching, and Personal Growth category.  Here is my profile. If you wish to book a one-to-one chat with me you can do so on this platform.

For more on this subject 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