What Is the Secret to Survive & Thrive In This Chaotic World? It’s VUCA!

[This is going to be a long story but if you read only one blog article this year, I suggest you read this one. Some deep secrets are going to be revealed… Make yourself comfortable because secrets such as this one cannot be revealed in a few paragraphs. I am going to take you on an epic journey. Off we go]

The world we are living in is chaotic and uncertain. Nothing is easy, we have to fight our way through everything. Everybody has problems, issues, and dramas to deal with and if you add to this some unexpected world events and some natural disasters then life becomes quite tricky. Wherever we are in the world, we all want the same thing. We all want to survive and thrive. We want to be happy, healthy, and wealthy. Surely, there must be a secret to stepping out of this chaotic world and getting to this Eldorado. Good news: there is a secret. It’s VUCA! You can watch the full documentary by joining UNIFYD TV where you will have access to a treasure trove of mindblowing information.

The US Army War College saw signs in 1987 that the world was becoming more volatile, more complex, more interconnected, more uncertain, and dangerously ambiguous. They put their best minds to work and came up with a military strategy known as V.U.C.A: Volatility. Uncertainty. Complexity. Ambiguity. From its very outset, the VUCA concept was put together to give US soldiers the ability to survive and thrive in times of crisis.

How to win everyday battles – Photo by Warmtall via freepik.com

This military strategy (which is unknown to most) is the secret to survive and thrive in this chaotic world. For those of you who wish to follow me on this Quest to find this Eldorado, read on; I am going to take you on an epic journey. I have in my possession the “secret” roadmap that will take us out of this chaotic world and straight to the hero’s journey. How did I come to possess such valuable information; you may ask? All was revealed to me in a documentary I watched recently called It’s VUCA – The Secret to Surviving in the 21st Century by Michael Schindler.

This article is based on this documentary and on some of the previous blog articles I wrote in the past which complement the VUCA concept quite well.

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

The secret to survive and thrive in this chaotic world is to first recognize that we live in a chaotic world

We are living in interesting times. Learn to navigate between order and chaos

There is no doubt that we are living in a VUCA world where things are Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. The Covid Era will be remembered as the age of despair, fractured communities where we were forced to alienate ourselves from our families, friends, colleagues, and clients. People were living in a state of fear, stress, sadness,and uncertainty and were bombarded by information, new regulations, and emergency decrees that were complex and ambiguous. There seems to be more pain than we could heal, more dissent than we could mediate, and more uncertainty than we could comprehend.

The Covid Era taught us all that we are living in interesting times and learning how to navigate between order and chaos is critical.  Everyone experiences the world through chaos, order, and something in between called consciousness.

Order is explored territory. It is the authority, the structured society. Order is tribe, religion, home, and country. Order is where the world’s behavior matches our expectations and desires, the place where all things turn out the way we want them to.

Chaos is unexplored territory. Chaos is the place you find yourself when things fall apart, when your dream dies, your career collapses, or your marriage ends. Chaos is when we don’t know where we are. When we don’t know what we are doing, and we don’t know where we are going.

Volatility turns our world upside down.  We live in a volatile world where we have to face changes that are unpredictable and frequent with devastating impacts on our lives, jobs, businesses, and relationship. When uncertainty reigns, no one can predict with confidence what’s going to happen next. People feel hopeless. How we can find hope amid uncertainty and conflict? In a VUCA world, the volume of information to process is complex, overwhelming, and staggering. It is like being asked to play chess every day whilst the rules of the game keep changing all the time. Ambiguity is the name of the game. What is causing the chaos is unclear and confusing. There is no roadmap to follow, no landmarks, and no signposts.

How to win everyday battles – Photo by Warmtall via freepik.com

Life is a battlefield, it is in the nature of most living organisms to engage in battles, have defense mechanisms, defeat their opponents, assert power and dominate. With humans, we see this happening in wars, in business, on a soccer field, in video games, and the chances are even when we are not waging war against our environment, we are waging war against ourselves. So how do you win everyday battles?

“If you know the enemy and you know yourself you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. But if you know neither the enemy nor yourself you will succumb in every battle.”

Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu claimed that the highest victory is defeating the enemy without fighting. Unfortunately, this ideal proposition is not always an option, sometimes you have no other option but to fight. That is why in life we ought to pick our battles carefully, we have to decide which battles are worth fighting and which are a waste of energy and resources. When push comes to shove and you have no choice but to fight, get into the arena and fight like your life depends on it, because it does.  And please don’t wait for the cavalry to come and save you. The calvary ain’t coming, you are the calvary.

In life, you need to have the courage to fight those battles. Courage is not an absence of fear, courage is the mental preparedness and ability to deal with difficult challenges, and sometimes seemingly impossible circumstances. It is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, intimidation, and other threats.

The Secret to survive and thrive in this crazy world. Photo by Vectorup Studio via freepik.com

And this is where the big secret is revealed…

The secret is that you fight VUCA with VUCA. What you have to do is flip the script by turning the negative VUCA into a positive VUCA. Volatility can be countered by Vision. Uncertainty can be countered by Understanding. Complexity can be countered by Clarity. Ambiguity can be countered by Agility.

When you go into battle you need ammunition.

The most dangerous person – Photo by user 14901510 via freepik.com

Ammunition number 1: Vision

In order to have vision, you first need to observe. Looking at something produces nothing. Observing on the other hand produces insights. According to the Oxford dictionary, “Observation is the action or process of observing something or someone in order to gain information.” Our observation skills inform us about objects, events attitudes, and phenomena using one or more senses. Improving our observation skills allows us to “listen” with more than our ears and make better decisions.

When we observe we can take a step back to peer into ourselves and others. Observing ourselves is crucial but observing others is essential as it provides another angle. When you combine the two the observation of ourselves and others you get valuable insights that you can use to better connect and communicate with people. Developing your observation skills will help you develop a better vision.

Get into the habit of observing the world as it is, in all its variety learning from it, and putting what you learned into use in your decision-making process, in improving your intuition, in building your relationships, and in developing your foresight and vision.

Ammunition number 2: Understanding

In order to understand the people and the world around you, you have to develop your ability to listen and to think for yourself.

 “When you talk you are only repeating something that you already know. But if you listen you may learn something new.”

Dalai Lama.

Before you assume learn the fact. Before you judge, understand why. Before you hurt someone, feel. Before you speak, think. Before you talk, Listen. Listening is key to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood. As a result, communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated.

Effective communication also starts with the understanding that people are not mind readers. Expecting people to guess your wishes and aspirations is only to bring frustration and resentment.  If you want something from someone express yourself clearly. If you use the right word, the right tone of voice, and the right body language, you are increasing your chance of having your wishes and aspirations become a reality. Listening means paying attention not only to the story but how it is told. The use of language, the tone of voice, and how the person uses his or her body are important. Pay attention. It means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages.

We all think of ourselves as rational creatures, but in reality, humans are deeply irrational and are often governed by emotion rather than logic. Moreover, we have a tendency to operate within our own echo chamber, where the only information that goes through our brain is information that validates our prior knowledge vindicates our prior decisions, or sustains our existing beliefs.

Critical thinking. Phot by freepik cia freepik.com

Critical thinking means many things but at heart, it means a search for the truth.  Critical thinking helps us determine what is real and what is not. But before we are able to exercise our cognitive ability to think we need to have a certain base of knowledge as a starting point.  We can only think critically about things that we have knowledge of.  

We should get into the habit from time to time of walking down the road less traveled the one taken by critical thinkers. If you decide to walk down that road it will require that you possess a certain fluidity of mind, some discipline, and be driven by the will to get to the truth of the matter rather than the urge to be righteous no matter what.

We live in a world of double standards, flagrant contradictions, and intolerance. It seems that people these days are incapable of having discussions with someone with who they strongly disagree, and have a civilized exchange based on reason rather than rage. It is a very sorry state of affairs. Preaching intolerance in the name of tolerance is a frightening contradiction that doesn’t seem to faze some people. But that is the VUCA world where are living in.

As a VUCA warrior, you will be a dangerous person if you know how to observe, listen, think (for yourself) and act accordingly.

Ammunition number 3: Clarity

There are 2 types of people in this world. Those who see clearly and those who don’t.  People who see clearly are confident in themselves and in their abilities. Confident people know who they are, what they want, and how they should go about it. They have a road map; they have a destination in mind and have planned the journey ahead. They have determination, discipline, and a sense of purpose and they go through their life journey in a state of joy, happiness, and grace.

People who don’t see clearly are lost, they drift, they are discouraged, they keep changing their mind and instead of going forward towards the light (there is always light at the end of the tunnel) they turn around in circles, wandering endlessly and compulsively but not really going anywhere and their life journey ends up being a journey full of pain and suffering.

The lack of clarity triggers different types of reactions in people. Some people will opt for burying their heads in the sand and continue to operate on autopilot. Others will sink into despair or run around in a state of panic not knowing what to do, holding on to their anger, resentment, and suffering.

Suffering is part of life everybody has problems, issues, and dramas to deal with. Jordan Peterson advocates that we should bear our own cross, our own suffering, transcend it and then try to reduce it by becoming some kind of hero to ourselves and to people around us. So how do we become heroes? Not by wearing a cape, jumping from building to building trying to save the world. We become heroes by becoming a better person every day, shining our own light into the world. [Hold that thought, more on this later.]

“Your mind is like this water my friend. When it is agitated, it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.”

Master Oogway

All of us without hesitation would prefer if given the choice, to be in the skin of one of those people who can see clearly. However, life is never black or white life is a lot more complex than that and you can bet that all of us will have periods where we experience moments of clarity, where everything is in harmony where we feel that we are on top of the world and we know where we are going, but we will also experience moments when we lack clarity, when we are filled with doubts and feel discouraged and drift not knowing where we are going.

If Clarity was a commodity that could be purchased the chance is that commodity would become the most precious item one could own. The problem is you cannot obtain Clarity from someone else you cannot buy Clarity and you cannot unfortunately receive it as a gift from someone else. You will have to find it yourself. Clarity will make your thoughts, your emotions, and your actions congruent with each other.

Buddhists believe that: “The world is like muddy water. To see through it, we have to let things settle. We can’t be disturbed by initial appearance. And if we are patient and still the truth will be revealed to us.”

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Ammunition Number 4: Agility

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

As VUCA Warriors we should be agile, we should learn the art of mobility. In the military world, the ability to maneuver cross-country and in the most restrictive terrain is essential. In life, if you are stuck in your own self-righteous and rigid way of doing things then you will lack the mobility to advance. Stiffness of thoughts originates from an inability to think critically preferring instead to submit yourself to groupthink and an ideology without questioning it.

The world is not black and white there are several shades of grey in between. Things change all the time. What is true today may not be true tomorrow. You don’t need a group, a leader, or some media platforms to tell you how to think and how to act. Don’t let people put you into a box and stick a label on it because that makes you predictable, vulnerable, and controllable. Be your own person be curious about what’s going on, ask questions, and think for yourself.

And please, stop asking for permission when you don’t have to. From the day we are born, we spend our lives asking for permission for everything. It starts with our parents, our teachers, our boss, our spouse, or our leader, and it goes on and on. Being compliant, obedient, and asking for permission might serve us well in a civilized society as we learn how to control our wants and desires; but the irony and eventual quiet tragedy of that is that in some instances, our wants and desires might not have a possessor, a licensor or a permit giver. It may lay outside the realms of ownership. There may be broad indifference to whether we act in some way or not. There may be no law or no one to be upset by our move. The desired thing in question might just belong to whoever dares to step forward and take it. There is no formal procedure, it’s just the courage to imagine that it could be yours. I say, stop asking for permission, if you don’t have to. Learn to be more autonomous and agile.

If you have the Vision, the Understanding, the Clarity of mind, and the Agility; congratulations, you have passed the test to be a VUCA warrior.

The secret to survive and thrive in this chaotic world is to recognize the necessity to act on our VUCA warrior attitude and combat obstacles on our journey

This is where storytelling comes into play. The VUCA world is laced with dilemmas, and problems you can’t solve, problems that won’t go away. Storytelling is critical in the VUCA world because stories take us into the unknown, they teach us about facing conflicts and overcoming fear and obstacles. We are all looking for clear answers to our questions, clear paths to follow, and clear solutions to our problems. 

There are two ways to learn valuable life lessons that will teach us to become a little bit smarter and wiser. The first method is through trial, error and personal experience and the second method is through storytelling. The downside of the first method is that it will no doubt bring you a fair amount of pain and suffering, which is something that we all want to avoid as much as possible. Learning life lessons through someone else’s struggle and ordeal is a much less painful way to go about it whilst still bringing the same benefits. And this is why storytelling is so important. Stories teach us about life, about ourselves and about others.

The importance of storytelling

Do not underestimate the writers’ role in society. Photo by user 31947721 via freepik.com

We should not underestimate the writer’s role in society. From the beginning of time, knowledge was shared from generation to generation thanks to storytellers who used their artistry to pass on information, knowledge, and wisdom to their community.

Well-chosen words breathe hope into us when our spirits are broken, revive us when our bodies are weary, lift our spirits up when we lose ourselves in an ocean of despair, redeem the wrong we feel, and make us stronger than we know.

Do not underestimate the writer’s role in society, because writers bring to the world something that no one else can… they shape the world. Writers have the power through their words to educate, heal and illuminate the mind.

“A poet’s work is to name the unnamable, to point to fraud, to start arguments, to shape the world, and to stop it going to sleep. Writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things that go on in the world of uncertainty, doubts, dreams, love, deception … that go on, slipping like sand through our fingers. To understand just one life, you just have to swallow the world. Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest place in human society and in the human spirit, where I go to find not absolute truth, but the truth of the tale, of the imagination of the heart.”

Salman Rushdie.

Storytelling gives us that clarity and can give us the courage to act, and the motivation to be resilient.  For sure we can turn to real and/or fictional heroes for inspiration and motivation but ultimately you have to embark on your own hero’s journey and become the hero of your own story. Remember. The cavalry ain’t coming, you are the cavalry.

The hero’s journey

Are there any heroes left? Photo by Creative art via freepik.com

Heroes are admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or their noble qualities. Heroes may be exhausted, but they persevere. They may be fearful, but they face danger courageously; still, they do not quail in the face of countless obstacles and danger. Heroes are undeterred by profoundly insurmountable difficulties and most of all they don’t allow themselves to be intimidated by destructive forces that cross their paths.

History is full of admirable heroes who fought against tyranny but in the modern era Are there any heroes left? If you live in a tyranny, would you know it? And if you did, are there any heroes left to fight against it? It is not a good idea to expect a noble knight to come on his white horse to save you. Save yourself. I believe that there is a new breed of heroes that are emerging. They are difficult to spot because they don’t wear a cape and a mask, they don’t jump from building to building, they don’t ride on a white horse; they are hiding in plain sight, they are amongst us hidden by their familiarity, they are hiding in you and me. Today’s heroes are you and me and anybody who has the courage to stand up when demoralized people are kneeling in submission.

Remember that a hero’s journey begins at the end of our comfort zone.  A comfort zone is an artificial mental boundary within which we maintain a sense of security and out of which we experience great discomfort. Each one of us has our own boundaries that delineate our comfort zone, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all-comfort-zone model, but what you must know is that all the comfort zone is concerned about is keeping you inside of it.

Definitely outside my comfort zone – Photo by Hu Chen on Unsplash

A lot of people will have a natural inclination for staying inside their comfort zone even if they are unhappy and unfulfilled, first and foremost because it is familiar and safe, but most of all because they are afraid of the unknown, the risk of failure, and/or being hurt. They would rather stay wrapped up in their little cocoon, preferring to stay warm and cozy.

The only problem with this is that even if you have a strong desire to stay warm and cozy forever and have no inclination to do more than is absolutely necessary, sometimes life doesn’t give you that choice. The Covid Era is a great testimony of this.  Ultimately, the hero within you will have to leave their cozy comfort zone and head into the scary unknown. At this point, courage and resilience are required to face doubts, interferences, and weaknesses; but what the hero will gain in the process are courage, a new perspective, and some wisdom.

In life, you need to have courage in order to fight those battles. Courage is the mental preparedness and ability to deal with difficult challenges and sometimes seemingly impossible circumstances. It is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, intimidation, and other threats.

Courage is not a quality that you are born with. It is one that has to be cultivated and honed. Today, we typically associate courage with heroic deeds but being courageous does not necessarily entail doing something dramatic or astoundingly heroic, everyday living requires courage. When we work to develop courage, we both empower ourselves with the ability to confront problems head-on, as well as acquire the skills required to deal with life’s inevitable challenges.

VUCA demands more from you. It demands more energy, more focus, more strength,and more resilience. Look at every day as being a VUCA warrior in training getting ready to get into the arena and fight as and when necessary.

Be Antifragile

The secret to survive and thrive in this chaotic world is to become antifragile. Human beings are fragile animals, but we are also resilient, rational beings with foresight, discernment, and the ability to survive and even thrive. Nobody knows what is going to happen next so we should get comfortable being uncomfortable while uncertainty reigns.

“Uncertainty is the very conditions that impels man to unfold his powers. As we navigate our own uncertain times together, may a thousand flowers of sanity bloom, each valid so long as it is viable in anchoring the human spirit it animates. And may we remember the myriad terrors and uncertainties preceding our own which have served as unexpected awakenings from some of our most perilous civilization slumbers.”

Erich Fromm
Girl Power. Kaboom!

We live every day with the knowledge of our staggering fragility, and we know how physiologically vulnerable our body and mind can be. We are aware that terrible outcomes are always possible and often probable. Your Quest as a human being is to protect yourself against the danger of losing your life but also against the danger of losing your mind. When the going gets tough, be tougher.

This knowledge of our own vulnerability makes us go back and forth between ecstatic optimism and sheer despair. In order to cope with that awareness and to counterweigh the heavy sense of our own fragility we often rely on the hope that somehow, we will be strong enough to withstand rare and unexpected events which the author Nassim Taleb refers to as Black Swans Events.

In his book, The Black Swan (2007) Taleb focuses on the extreme impact of rare and unpredictable events which are events impossible to predict due to their extreme rarity. As Black Swan Events may result in catastrophic consequences it is important for people always to assume, however, unlikely that they are possible and plan accordingly. In his book, Taleb urges his readers to not attempt to predict Black Swans Events but to build robustness to their negative impacts. The world is too complex for anyone to understand or predict exactly what is going to happen, and rather than naively try to predict Black Sawn Events we just need to be aware of the possibility and adjust to their existence by becoming antifragile.

Author Joanne reed, this is your quest, living in uncertain times, Nassim Taleb

In his book, Antifragile (2012) Taleb explains that all systems can be categorized as fragile, robust, or antifragile. Fragile things are exposed and destroyed by volatility. Robust things resist. Antifragile things benefit from it.

“Some things benefit from shock they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder stressors and uncertainty. Antifragility is beyond resilience and robustness. The resilient resists shock and stay the same. The antifragile gets better. The fragile wants tranquility. The antifragile grows from disorder.”

Nassim Taleb

Nassim Taleb urges people to stop using the observable past as an indicator of the future – Don’t be a Turkey! Turkey is fed for 1000 days and thinks that everything is all right and food will be coming. On day 1001 the day before Thanksgiving everything changes.

“Uncertainty is our discipline and understanding how to act under conditions of incomplete information is the highest and most urgent human pursuit.”

Karl  Popper.

Below are 4 tips to become tougher and antifragile:

  1. Become antifragile and tougher by removal. The solution to many problems in life is solved by removal, and not by addition. Living a healthy life is more about removing sugar, processed food, and unhealthy snacks from your diet. Similarly, people become wealthy by reducing their exposure to going bust. Professional athletes win games by removing mistakes.
  2. Become tougher and antifragile by being healthy. Treat your body as a temple worship it every day. Being unhealthy makes our immune system weak, which makes us more prone to disease, which in turn makes us fragile. Hippocrates is known for saying: “let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.” According to this doctrine, the body contains within itself the power to rebalance and heal itself.
  3. Become tougher and antifragile by optionality. The more options you have the more freedom you have to respond to unforeseen circumstances, thus reducing your fragility to Black Swan Events. If you have optionality you don’t need to be right that often. All you need is the wisdom not to do things that will hurt your and to be able to recognize favorable outcomes when they arise.
  4. Become tougher and antifragile through trial and error. Try new things and find out through a process of trial and error what works and what doesn’t. If an idea doesn’t work, make it fail quickly then move on to the next one. Play safe in some areas of your life and take some risks in others.

And this my dear friend is your Quest – Become a VUCA warrior!

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

Long Story Short – Episode 4 – We Are All Explorers

We all have in mind a romanticized idea of what explorers look like i.e., a Marco Polo, a Christopher Colombus or a Ferdinand Magellan surely fit that explorer stereotype. We should also include Hollywood characters such as Indiana Jones and Lara Croft in that list. Those explorers and adventurers are truly exceptional individuals with a very special set of skills and a level of courage and determination that set them apart from the rest of us. For sure those explorers have been real trailblazers and we should give them the respect and recognition that they deserve, but from my perspective, we are all explorers.

We are all explorers. Photo featuring Joanne Reed in the desert of Saudi Arabia.

We are all Explorers. You don’t have to be a thrill junkie to be an explorer

We don’t have to be navigators, scientists, archaeologists, or adrenaline junkies to be an explorer. You can call yourself an explorer as soon as you decide to start a journey of discovery that will unveil some hidden knowledge, myths, truths, and lies about the world as we know it. What you need is a little bit of courage.

Courage is the most important of all virtues, because without courage you cannot practice any of the other virtues consistently.

Maya Angelou

You don’t have to be a thrill junkie to be brave. Being brave is waking up every day to face all that life is throwing at you with courage and determination. Being brave is being able to stand strong in the face of rejection, and criticism and continue to work on your life purpose without loss of enthusiasm. Being brave is being able to be alone without feeling lonely because it is in solitude that you can hear that little voice inside you who has been trying to tell you what you already know deep down but you were too busy being distracted by all the noise around you. Being brave is taking care of your body, mind, and spirit and make yourself strong, healthy and resilient each and every day.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”.

Marcel Proust

We are all explorers. Photo featuring Joanne Reed in the desert of Saudi Arabia.

We are all Explorers. Step outside your comfort zone`

comfort zone is an artificial mental boundary within which we maintain a sense of security and out of which we experience great discomfort. Each one of us has our own boundaries that delineate our comfort zone, there isn’t a one size-fit-all-comfort-zone model, but what you must know is that all the comfort zone is concerned with is keeping you inside of it.

A lot of people will have a natural inclination to stay inside their comfort zone even if they are unhappy and unfulfilled,  first and foremost because it is familiar and safe, but most of all because they are afraid of the unknown, the risk of failure, and/or being hurt. They would rather stay wrapped up in their little cocoon, preferring to stay warm and cozy. But instead of staying in this warm cosy place, I propose to take you on an exploratory trip where you will get uncomfortable by stepping outside your comfort zone.

Stepping outside your comfort zone will help you grow, but it is important that you do it properly; be mindful of not putting yourself in a situation where  you will push yourself to do something that falls way outside your comfort zone to the point of jeopardy. There is a fine line between being courageous and being stupid.

We are all explorers. Photo featuring Joanne Reed in the desert of Saudi Arabia.

According to Professor Andy Molinski  who is a professor of organizational behavior at Brandeis University International Business School there are 3 zones when it comes to comfort. The first one is the comfort zone, where you are in a familiar situation and you are experiencing very little anxiety. The second zone is the stretch zone, where you are experiencing some level of anxiety but at a point where you can turn it into motivation and a good productivity level. The third zone is the panic zone where you are experiencing extreme levels of anxiety and where you are feeling completely overwhelmed.

Molinski stresses that the optimal level of discomfort is in your stretch zone. It is important to understand that comfort zone is a subjective concept, and each individual has to understand their tolerance to discomfort.  Humans react to new situations differently, it is very possible that what one considers to be their stretch zone might be another’s panic zone. There are several factors that will help you determine your tolerance levels, such as your values and interest, your personality and tolerance to stress. The key is to understand how you work. You need to know yourself. Having that kind of insight relies on a great deal of self-awareness and if you are unsure, the only way to find out is to experiment.

We are all Explorers. Start looking at life with a sense of curiosity

We are all explorers. Photo featuring Joanne Reed in the desert of Saudi Arabia.

What you need is to start looking at life with a sense of curiosity. You want to become an explorer. You want to keep learning and growing. Be open and receptive. Become involved in life. Be in the arena. You want to venture to places you haven’t been to before. You want to do things you haven’t done before.

You want to connect and engage with people you wouldn’t normally interact with. You want to taste new dishes. You want to climb to the top of a mountain, canoe across a lake, ride your bike to work, or walk barefoot in the grass. You want to sing in the shower, dance in the living room and have pajama parties with your friends. You want to wear outrageous and colorful clothes. You want to dance in the rain ad get wet.

You want to take your time to think and pause and meditate, to reflect on who you are and what you want to be. You want to gaze through a window and breathe, taking in the beauty of the scenery.

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

Long Story Short – Episode 3 – Be Like Water

Bruce Lee’s legacy as a martial artist, movie star, and deep thinker remains very much alive today; there is so much we can learn from him, still. There was a point during his training when Bruce Lee became frustrated with his lack of progress. He was working hard but didn’t see any improvement.  His Master knew the problem was that he was trying too hard.

Photo featuring Joanne & Alize Reed. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.There are no tricks in those pictures just a mother and her daughter a scuba diver photographer and two amazing dresses.

 “Preserve yourself by following the natural bends of things and don’t interfere. Remember never to assert yourself against nature, never be in frontal opposition to any problems, but control it by swinging with it”.

Bruce Lee

BE LIKE WATER. Don’t get set into one form, adapt it, build your own and let it grow. When you put water in a cup it becomes the cup. When you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. In order to control myself, I must first accept myself by going with and not against my nature.

Photo featuring Joanne Reed. Photo by Thierry Nikolaeff @terydiving. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

BE LIKE WATER. The nature of water is so fine that it is impossible to grasp a handful of it. Strike it yet it does not suffer hurt. Stab it and it is not wounded. Sever it, yet it is not divided. It has no shape of its own but molds itself to the acceptable that contains it.

BE LIKE WATER. When water is heated it turns into steam, it is invisible, but it has enough power to split the Earth itself. When frozen it crystallized into a mighty rock. First, it is turbulent like Niagara Falls then calm like a spring on a hot summer day. BE LIKE WATER.

Photo by Thierry Nikoleff @terydiving featuring Joanne Reed. Dress by Nathalie Pezzotta-Davranche @lartisanecouture.

Be flexible in both mind and body. Don’t be rigid and stubborn about your beliefs, your practices, or your understanding of how the world operates, be open-minded, stay fluid and adapt to the circumstances.

Bruce Lee understood that the path of least resistance is to be just like water. Don’t go against your own nature, let it flow and use it to your advantage. Martial artists learn to preserve their own energy while turning the force used by their opponents against them. 

And this, my dear friend is Your Quest – Be like water!

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

Long Story Short – Episode 1- The Year Of The Tiger

This is the first of a series of blog articles where I will take a “fresh” look at “old” pieces that I published in the past, keeping it short and sweet. The main idea is to highlight the key concept or lesson that I shared, getting straight to the point and giving you food for thought. Long story short we are fast approaching the end of the year of the Tiger. So what have we learned?

Tiger Spirit

Time flies and just like that we are soon coming to the end the year 2022, the Year of the Tiger. According to people who know how to decipher those zodiac signs, the year of the Tiger is about making significant changes. It is 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.

Long Story Short – Episode 1- The Year of the Tiger – Photo by user 14901510 via freepik.com

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 battle. Some fights are worth fighting others are not. Tigers are good at choosing which pursuits are worth their time and energy.

The tiger animal spirit is silent and solitary and thrives when there are no distractions. Its focus becomes more laser-sharp, and the silence makes it easier to spot any kind of movement nearby. Do not come rushing and roaring at your targets because this is the easiest way you can lose them from your 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.

The man who is free is the one who knows.

Unkwown author

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

Long Story Short – Episode 1- The Year of the Tiger -Be courageous. Emulate the tiger. Photo by Freepik via freepik.com

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 positions of political power backed up by their lackeys in the media and celebrity culture. 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, cancel 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 or worry about some nasty consequences if people really knew what you really think, but if you are inhabited by the Tiger spirit you would know that “a Tiger doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of Sheep.”

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

The Mind is like a Horse. Learn How to Ride It

“The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit and freedom.”

Sharon Ralls Lemon.

It has been said that the mind is like a horse, we should learn how to ride it. Horses are always ready to share an adventure with you, they stand firm and strong always willing to let you lean on them when life gets too rough.  Horses are also hypersensitive creatures, they can sense fear, nervousness and they can react to that in unexpected ways. Some horses will test you. Some will teach you. And some will bring out the best in you.

History records the physical and emotional benefits of horseback riding as early as the days of the ancient Greeks. The concept of horses being partnered with humans in a therapeutic capacity was noted in “Natural Exercise” a text written 460-375 BCE by Hippocrates, the Greek physician, and philosopher. Fast forward to today, several studies have confirmed that equine-assisted therapy may help treat autism, PTSD, depression, and pain.

The mind is like a horse, learn how to ride it

The mind is like a horse, learn how to ride it. Photo taken by Joanne Reed featuring Maya Reed. The Savannah, Reunion Island.

It has been said that the mind is like a horse, we should learn how to ride it. The analogy helps us understand how the mind and body work together. The sensations, impulses, and reactions in our bodies are like the untamed instincts of an animal, in this particular analogy our sensations, impulses, and reactions are the horse. When we get on the horse and ride it we learn how to ride this energy.

The horse within us is the animal-like part of our being. Like a horse, we have instincts, lust, and passions that drive us. Those impulses are part of what makes us human we are driven by impulses of self-preservation (i.e., food), self-gratification (i.e., pleasure), and power (i.e., money). Sometimes those impulses can go unchecked and run wild; that is why it is important to have a competent rider to ride on the ‘horse’. The rider within us can direct these passions and animal instincts. The rider can decide which passions to pursue, which to delay pursuing, and which not to pursue at all. The rider within us allows us to discern between worthwhile and less-worthwhile activities.

As the rider of the horse, we can determine what and when we eat, and what career we wish to pursue, we can control our inner passions and desires. We can control our horse-like tendencies. And we should remind ourselves every day that it is we who are in the saddle. Therefore, we can direct ourselves to meaningful activities because we are in control of the reins.

As good equestrians know, the best way to ride a horse is not to try to control it with fear, force, or frustration, but by confidently offering a partnership. We should listen and respond to the horse’s need for reassurance, guidance, and gentleness, as well as recognize its natural animal inclination to follow its instincts and act in a horse-like way. Based on what the horse tells us, we should adjust our journey as needed, not lose sight of our intended destination. In this way, riders and horses can travel in perfect harmony.

This horse analogy helps us better understand how the mind and body work. When we encounter danger our body’s response is to fight, flee or freeze. At this point, our thinking mind comes into the frame to analyze the situation and make a rational decision as to whether the situation really puts us in danger. By noticing what’s going on in our bodies and mind we ride the horse steadily instead of riding it like a horseman or woman in a frenetic and futile battle with a frightened mount.  Instead, we relax and settle in our saddle, bumpy though the ride may be, and we take control of the reins. We may talk to ourselves softly just like a horse whisperer would do and find the right words to appease our fear and calm our nerves.  We can train our minds to do things differently, and the more practice we get the better at it we become. Life becomes less like a crazy rodeo, and a little more akin to Olympic showjumping; with plenty of hurdles, but a bit more poise.

Riding lessons for your mind

The mind is like a horse, learn how to ride it. Photo taken by Maya Reed featuring Joanne Reed. The Savannah, Reunion Island
  1. Saddle up: Mount the horse, stay mounted, and enjoy the ride.
  2. Listen to the horse. If you want a stable relationship, get a horse. If you are not a humble person, your horse will make you one. If you don’t have your own horse, go and check next door. What do you call a horse who lives next door? Neigh-bor!
  3. Acknowledge the rider. If the horse tries to buck you off, hold on tight. Chat with your horse and ask him to be nicer to you. Stay in control of the reins. As a peace gesture offer your horse some bread. What kind of bread does a horse eat? Thoroughbred!
  4. Notice the terrain. Be aware of the terrain, your environment, and of the forecast. If the weather is rainy, stormy,or icy best to postpone the ride. Don’t take a chance, it is not worth it. Be aware of those horses who like traveling around the world. They can be a handful. What do you call a horse that’s a world traveler? A globe-trotter!
  5. Come back to the center. Check your posture and state of mind. Is your mind present, awake, and attentive? If needed, re-settle by focusing on your breathing, and ask yourself why the horse was feeling so stressed. It was saddled with responsibility!
  6. Ride into the sunset. Now, ask yourself: Based on what’s here, in this body, mind, and the world around me, what course would be helpful to take right now? In which direction, toward what or whom, shall the onward journey take? Listen to your gut, your heart, your head, and the feedback you receive from the environment and people around you. Recognize that there may be more than one course to take, and remember that you can re-navigate at any time, by checking in again with the rider and horse. Allow yourself to be still, and not make a move, if this is what’s most needed for the moment.

Advice from a horse by Ilan Shamir.  Take life’s hurdles in stride. Loosen the reins. Keep stable. Be free-spirited. Gallop to greatness. Keep the burrs from under the saddle. Carry your friends when they need it.

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

How to Become More Compelling

People have the ambition to become rich and famous to become an influencer, the truth is the majority of us will have to be content with a less ambitious but more obtainable goal of being happy and content with what we have whilst exercising some kind of positive influence within our community. Instead of thriving to become a world-famous influencer how about becoming more compelling within our community?

Whether we are realizing it or not we are always influencing people, whether it is to get our toddler to eat their carrots and broccolis or convince your boss to adopt alternatives way of doing things, or to help your friends and family adopt healthy living habits, being compelling is how we make things happen in this world. It is how movements are started and how ideas come to life.

How to become more compelling?

How to be more compelling. Photo by Lookstudio via Freepik

We are always influencing people. The moment we step into a room we create an impression of ourselves by the way we are dressed, the expression we have, and the energy we exalt. But is it the one we mean to be creating and could we be forging better connections and a stronger influence if we knew how to be more intentional about the impressions we are generating? People thrive for connection and hanging out with people with positive vibes will for sure give you a positive boost; do not underestimate the power of exchanging something as simple as a smile with a total stranger or holding the door for someone who is behind you.

Being compelling is all about learning the art of striking a perfect balance of strength and warmth and finding your authentic self in the process. We don’t need to portray something we’re not, but we do need to play up our positives and pay attention to the signals we’re sending others. 

You play up to your strengths when you are able to display your skills and convey your capability in a straight and effective manner with confidence and no arrogance.  You convey warmth when you are able to create a sense of connection, understanding, compassion, and genuine care for the other person. You put these two ingredients together and you end up with a powerful elixir that can generate respect and affinity. How much strength and affinity can you display? It will depend on your visual, verbal, and vocal communication style.

Become more compelling by doing the following:

1.       Be confident and be yourself.

Confidence is difficult to define because it is subjective, elusive, and hard to pin down; but you know it when you see it, and you know what it feels like to be around it. Being confident is an experience. We also know when we don’t feel it when we hide underneath a blanket of self-doubt, anxiety, and insecurity. Confidence and lack of confidence are some of those rare qualities that are infectious. When you act confident you exude good positive vibes, people want to be around you, follow your lead, and be inspired by you. When you feel wary, insecure, and defeated people tend to stay away from you. Being confident matters a great deal.

Confidence should not be an end in and of itself, and it will never compensate for good old-fashioned hard work. Even the most confident people need to be confident about something, themselves, their work, their identities, and confidence divorced from content will fall apart sooner rather than later. Confidence isn’t just about style, it’s also about substance; the two are intimately connected.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to change you is the greatest accomplishment.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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. I say, Honey, stop following the crowd, they are lost.

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

I say, Honey, stop following the crowd they are lost. Be compelling by being confident and by being yourself. Don’t be a sheep be a lone wolf.

2.       Be an effective communicator

How to be more compelling. Photo by Lookstudio via Freepikpelling

How good are your communication skills? Every problem big or small starts with bad communication. Someone is not communicating their message clearly and/or someone is not listening. Being an effective communicator requires that you are able to speak, listen, write and read effectively and clearly.

Communication is a process where at least two individuals are involved, a sender and a receiver. For it to be successful, the receiver must understand the message in the way that the sender intended. It sounds simple and pretty straightforward, but it is not. Misunderstanding and confusion are commonplace and can cause conflicts and frustrations on a professional level but also on a personal level.

Effective communication on the other hand can help understand people and situations, leading the way for an effective way to share ideas, meet challenging situations, and build better relationships at home and at work. Effective communication starts with understanding the 7-38-55% communication rule. Did you know that only 7% of communication is verbal, 38% is tone and inflection of voice and a staggering 55% is body language?

“If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind.”

Buddha

 

3.       Be mindful. Show appreciation for people and the world around you.

How to be more compelling. Photo by Lookstudio via Freepik

I am sure you have all heard the saying “don’t let the future steal your present”. Although we all know the saying, a lot of us don’t put this into practice, but we should because it could save us from depression and anxiety. Psychologists often say that depression lives in the past; anxiety lives in the future and calmness and peace of mind live in the present.

The trend these days is to learn to be more mindful, which inherently means learning and practicing the art of being more present in the moment. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not be engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something that just happened or fretting about the future.

You can practice mindfulness anytime, anywhere, and with anyone by being fully engaged in the here and now. Many people go about their daily lives with their minds wandering from the activity they are participating in, to other thoughts, desires, fears, or wishes; but it has been said that “a wandering mind is an unhappy mind”.

Be compelling by being grateful for all the things and events in your life (happy or less happy ones) that made you the person you are today. And whatever you do practice mindfulness so that you can be peaceful too.

4.       Walk your talk

Being compelling means that you are able to display your skills and convey your capability in a straight and effective manner with confidence and no arrogance.  You convey warmth when you are able to create a sense of connection, understanding, compassion, and genuine care for the other person. You put these two ingredients together and you end up with a powerful elixir that can generate respect and affinity.

We are living in a world full of hypocrisy. People say and preach one thing and do another. Politicians are the worst offenders and this is why they do not command respect and admiration anymore. They are full of fluff, they are pandering to their audience saying whatever they need to say to get elected to office and as soon as they get to sit in the Big Chair, they conveniently forget all the promises they made the day before. “Rule for thee and not for me.”  Politicians also have a bad habit of not taking responsibility for their bad decisions, conveniently finding some ‘boogeyman’ to take the blame for all the bad stuff that is happening during their mandate. So please be compelling by not talking or acting like a politician but walk your talk instead. Grow a spine. Show warmth and compassion. Take responsibility for your mistakes, own them, and learn from them.   

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

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Be Happy

How to Get Your Message Across. Words Matter.

From the time we get up till the time we go to bed, we communicate our wants, desires, fear, worry, anxiety to all the people around us. We should learn how to get our message across, because words matter. Words provide the basis for human connection, they matter a great deal. Although we have always known this intuitively, science has confirmed the tremendous power our words have on ourselves, our communities, and the world. The words we use and how we use them matter immensely because they shape the way we perceive the world and participate within it. Words are tricky because people can interpret the words we say and the manner we said those words in a way that is different from the way we originally intended. Words can lift us up or drag us down.

Choose your words carefully. Throwing words around in a nonchalant manner to whoever, whenever, however, and whatever can be reckless and have consequences. Be mindful of the words you use and how you use them because they will have an impact positive or negative on the people around you.

How to get your message across? By establishing a good rapport with your interlocutor

How to get your message across. Words matter. Photo by Master 1305 via freepik.com.

The advice below comes from Evy Poumpouras, a former Special Agent with the US Secret Service and the author of the book “Becoming Bulletproof: Protect Yourself, Read People, Influence Situations, Lice Fearlessly.”

Rapport is the ability to understand and communicate with people. You have to build rapport and then maintain it throughout the conversation till the end without dropping the ball in the middle of the conversation. It is like a ping pong game.

Use words that make people comply with what you are saying rather than words that make them resist you. Think about how your words are going to land on that person; so in order to get your message across you have to understand that person well and understand their triggers and how those words are going to land on them.

“It is an excellent rule to be observed in all disputes, that men should give soft words and hard arguments; that they should not so much strive to vex as to convince each other.” John Wilkins.

If you are dealing with someone who has a big ego, and if this person is someone with whom you want to maintain a good business relationship with, you may want to soften the words you are going to use to express the fact that on this particular occasion you will pass on the business opportunity so that they will not feel that your rejection of their offer is a direct attack on their identity or their ego. You have to be mindful of the fact that the word “no” can have a negative impact on your interlocutor, it can make them feel rejected and diminished. Having said that, there will be circumstances where you have to be more direct and decisive in your answer, and the words ‘no’ should be used in the right circumstance and will make you feel strong and assertive.

There could be situations where you need someone to wake up and react to what you are saying because they are completely indifferent to you or not really paying attention; in this case, drop some bombshell words and then watch how those words land on them; you will get a reaction from them in no time. Words are powerful, they can wake people up, shut people down, and they can also lift people up.

How to get your message across? By cultivating the art of acceptance, adaptability, by giving your interlocutor some autonomy, and by having empathy

How to get your message across. Words matter. Photo by Master 1305 via freepik.com.

How a word is interpreted and how a word lands on a person is going to be completely different from person to person because we are all unique individuals with different sensitivities and triggers. What you are saying and how you are saying it is important because it will have an impact, positive or negative, on the person you are connecting with.

You will find below 4 tips (from Evy Poumpouras) that will help you get your message across and have a top tier type of conversation

1. Acceptance. One of the hardest things you have to do when you are having a conversation with someone is to be able to accept what they are saying as truth, not your truth but their truth. If you start a conversation with a feeling of absolute knowing and self-righteousness, it is not going to be a good conversation and the chance is, it is not going to end well either. Try to resist the urge to tell the other person that they are absolutely wrong and try to accept the fact that what they are saying is their truth. Offer the interlocutor a safe place where they feel that they can say what they want and that they can be heard. That means being able to push your ego out of the way and instead of entering into a diatribe about how wrong they are, just listen to their point of view. Whether you agree or not is not the point, you need to give them sufficient space to express themselves to understand how they think, and how they feel about this particular matter.

2. Adaptability. When you have acceptance which is the biggest hurdle, the next thing you can do is to have adaptability. Adaptability means not being rigid. When you are rigid you are going to struggle. You may have an agenda and a road map before you go into that conversation, but if things go in a different direction, allow the person to go where they want (for a little bit) before you try to re-direct the conversation where you want to go. Pay attention to how the people who are listening to you are reacting to your words if you feel that you are losing them, because they can’t see where you are taking them, go straight to the point instead of going around the bush, or crack a joke to wake them up.

3. Autonomy. Give your interlocutor some autonomy, some kind of power in a situation where they may feel powerless. When you are negotiating with someone, or when you are having a difficult conversations, it is definitely not a good idea to try to bulldoze or destroy that person. Maybe you will win that argument this time around, but you will have built (unbeknown to you) in that same process a mountain of resentment. Giving your interlocutor some kind of power back builds rapport and connection.

4. Empathy. Being emphatic doesn’t mean sympathizing with the other person’s viewpoint; it means the ability to see things from another person’s perspective.

Having a good handle on how to get our message across is a skill that we all need to practice. It is always better to convince people through your words, demeanor and action rather than trying to shove something down someone’s throat no matter what, which is happening too often these days.

How to get your message across. Words matter. Photo by Master 1305 via freepik.com.

“Persuasion can go through obstacles that force cannot.” Yusuf A, Leinge.

Henry S. Truman said: “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.” Politicians are very good at this, when they can’t convince, they are trying to confuse the people by saying one thing and their contrary in the most inarticulate manner. Inconsistencies of speech, followed by actions that are contrary to what was preached a minute earlier is a complete turn off for me. Walk your talk otherwise you are not going to convince me.

This said, I feel in awe when I am listening to someone speak with eloquence, grace, and conviction. I am way impressed when I see someone handle difficult and stressful situations even verbal attacks with a calm, composed demeanor whilst holding their ground and standing up for themselves. Some people are really good at this, others less so.

Your Quest., my dear friend is to be in the group of people who are a top-tier communicator.

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

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

Things Are Not What They Seem, First Impression Deceives Many …

Things are not what they seem, first impression deceives many, the intelligence of a few perceive what has been carefully hidden”. Phaedrus c.444 – 393 BC. Phaedrus, whose name translates to bright or radiant was an ancient aristocrat who enjoyed the company of philosophers. He was particularly interested in the nature of reality. He spent long hours asking himself the following questions: do we see things how they are or only how they seem to us? Is seeing believing? Can we trust our senses? How do we know how something really is?

“The mind is strange in the way that it picks and chooses what it wants 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

Things are not what they seem, the first impression deceives many

The text below is an extract written by my eldest daughter Maya which introduces Part Two of my book “This Is Your Quest

The view from my window – by Maya Reed.

Things are not what they seem, first impression deceives many. The view from my window.

No matter a person’s race, gender, status, or health, everyone has a window that acts as their unique glimpse into the world. However, this window varies greatly from person to person, and any aspect about someone can determine what he or she sees out of it. The view from these windows is in a constant state of change and can be altered by something as substantial as how we are raised or our lifestyle, to something as trivial as how we are feeling on a particular day.

When looking out of this figurative window, things such as the time of day can reflect a specific state of mind. In times of happiness, the beauty of the world hits me like a truck. This is when I look out my window and see a bright sunrise marking the dawn of a new day. As the sun makes it steady ascent, it brings the excitement of new possibilities with it. Light bursts forth from the horizon in an onslaught of colors, forcing the darkness into a hasty retreat. In these moments, everything is picture perfect and it only magnifies with the growing light – the world radiates alacrity.

The sky is painted in stunning streaks of red, pink, purple, and blue and the birds sing their delight to the heavens. With sunlight already streaming through the window, my eyes turn to a world blanketed in tranquility. Leaves dance in the wind, taking my mind with them. People amble down the street, content clear on their faces. I see a couple as they walk by my window. They stroll hand in hand, simply appreciating each other’s touch. Birds soar through the sky with effortless grace, trees sway in the wind, and everything is infinitely beautiful. I can see all the wonder the world has to offer.

Somewhere, in the distance, a newborn takes its first breath. Elsewhere, jobs are being offered, vows are taken, homes are found, love is declared, sickness is overcome, and countless more bring a smile to my face. It is as if the sun’s rays illuminate anything and everything worthwhile and lift them up on a shinning pedestal. In this merry state of mind, negativity is easily overpowered, but the light that ensures this sanctuary is not constant.

Light brings wonder to people’s lives, but it is not possible for light to exist without darkness. I once again find myself taking a moment to properly look out my window. However, after a long and strenuous day, the sunset is upon me, and as I watch, the sun is slowly but surely beating back under the horizon.

My eyes scan what’s below me and a vague familiarity resides beneath the layers of dense darkness, but my optimism died with the sun. The light is gone, and with it, the happiness it brought. Now, all the wrongs the light refused to expose become painfully clear. In my mind’s somber restlessness, the shadows jump out with murderous intent, and the darkness is suffocating.

The same couple walks past my window, but this time I notice the strange tightness in which he grips her hand, and her refusal to look him in the eye. The amblers’ steps are reduced to depressed plodding, and even the breeze seems to whisper threats. It soon becomes achingly clear that the songbirds fled long ago, and the silence they leave behind is deafening. The glass is the only thing that separates me from the world where evil lurks around every corner, but the darkness threatens to break the seal.

In an instant, the darkness thickens and every shadowed window hides a depressed, overworked child. It is far too easy to notice that every second, a driver’s mistake becomes a death sentence, tears tun like rivers, blood taints the soil, someone takes the fatal jump, maledictions are hurled at one another, lives are shattered, and the savage reality of this world cracks down like a whip. In the same way, the light blinded me to anything I didn’t want to see, the darkness is enough to suppress everything worth seeing.

The mind is strange in the way that it picks and chooses what it wants to see in the world. Some days it will go through the terrifying, disheartening, and even confusing process of freezing to gawk at the shadows. Other days it will inexplicably decide to turn it back to what lies in the darkness and instead ogle at the brilliance of the sun.

In fact, the true nature of the world is rarely seen. Constantly fluctuating emotions act as lenses for our window. They can taint, brighten, dull, enhance, blind, illuminate and change the view of different surroundings. The way people let their emotions, conditions, and state of mind guide their perspective ultimately decides who they are as a person.

Things are not what they seem, first impression deceives many, the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden

‘The eyes are useless when the mind is blind”

African Proverb
Things are not what they seem, first mpression deceives many. Photo by Ilin Serguey via freepik.com

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.

The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to 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

We think that we are living in a peaceful time, but in fact, life is a battlefield. 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.

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. Passive non-critical thinkers take a simplistic view of the world. They see things in black and white, as either-or, rather than recognizing a variety of possible understandings. They see questions as yes or no, with no subtleties. They fail to see linkages and complexities. They fail to recognize related elements. They take their facts as the only relevant ones. They take their perspectives as the only sensible ones. They consider their goal as the only valid one.

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, spot all the inconsistencies. If you know how to observe, listen, think and act accordingly, you become a dangerous person.

“I’d rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.”

Unknown author

No one wants to hear this, but we are all being mind-controlled, and the truth is not true anymore. 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, newspaper 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.

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”.

George Orwell

Life is not what it seems, first impression deceives many, the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.

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

How Do You Handle Adversity? Are you a Carrot, an Egg or a Coffee Bean?

How do you handle Adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean? The story of the carrot, egg, and coffee bean is well-known; for those who have already heard about it, read it again, it is worth it and for those who are hearing it for the first time, you will enjoy it. It is a story about perspective, adversity, and freedom to choose how you react to things happening in your life because there are always two sides to every coin; your perspective is your reality.

Full credit for this article should be given to the author of this story who is unknown; I am taking you to my kitchen table today to serve you this story because those words of wisdom are worth spreading. Everyone wants to gain wisdom. Wisdom is one of the greatest qualities that human beings can possess. So, seek it, hold on to it and treasure it. Why? Because it will help you navigate through choppy waters, it will lift you up from the depths of despair, it will help you put everything into perspective, and ultimately it will turn you into the hero of your own story.

How Do you handle adversity? Are you a Carrot, an Egg, or a Coffee bean?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, and egg or a coffee bean? Photo by Stoccking via freepik.com

The story is set at home in the family kitchen, where mother and daughter are having a chat. Mother is really happy to see her daughter who recently left the family nest to do her thing and live her life in the big wide world. But the daughter is feeling quite unhappy at the moment, being an adult and being responsible for your own decisions and your own life happened to be much harder than she expected. She didn’t know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of struggling and fighting. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother listened to the tale of her daughter’s demise, and at the end of the tale, she filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last one, she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word waiting for the water to boil; twenty minutes later she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. She ladled the coffee into a cup.

Turning to her daughter, she asked: “Tell me what you see?” “Carrots, eggs, and coffee” she replied. The mother brought her daughter closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What’s the point, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity… boiling water – but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg went in as fragile, with only a thin outer shell to protect its liquid interior. But, after being through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however, because as they were in the boiling water, they changed the water.

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, and egg or a coffee bean? Photo by Stoccking via freepik.com

“Which are you? she asked the daughter. When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean? Are you the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do you become soft and lose your strength? Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Do you have a fluid spirit, but after a break-up, a financial hardship, or some other trial, have you become hardened and stiff? Does your shell look the same, but on the inside are you bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or are you like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? “

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

How Do you handle adversity? The moral of the story

Life is often difficult. It can be harsh, stressful, and feel like a pot of boiling water. The environments we find ourselves in can change, weaken, or harden us, and test what we are made of. We can be like the carrot that weakens in the pot or like the egg that hardens. Or we can be like the coffee bean and discover the power inside us to transform our environment.

Things are never as bad as they seem and they are never as great either. Maintaining our perspective on things helps us overcome adversity even if we struggle. Life is not made of butterflies and rainbows. It is made of a whole bunch of things. Sometimes it is sunny and sometimes it is rainy.

Talking about rain, I take this opportunity to share with you my youngest daughter’s latest YouTube Video – Don’t Rain on my Parade

“Some people feel the rain, others just get wet.”

Bob Marley

You need the rain to make you appreciate the sunny days better and when it rains, instead of letting the grey sky gets to you, choose instead to dance in the rain, or in this case, make and drink the coffee.

Talking about coffee, my eldest Maya wrote a blog article a while ago titled Things to be Grateful For and she makes reference in her article of the book Thanks a Thousand written by A.J. Jacobs who wrote an entire book based on the idea that the little things in our lives aren’t so little. Thanks a Thousand tells the story of Jacob’s mission to thank everyone who was involved in making a small, but important part of his life: his morning cup of coffee. His quest took him months to complete and had him flying across the entire globe to thank delivery drivers, factory workers, bean farmers, and everyone in between. His story is an inspiring one and is a great example of how beneficial showing gratitude can be, and what we also have to take away is the intricate and detailed process it took to make Jacobs’ cup of coffee and the same process is true for every other little luxury of modern-day life.

So, the moral of the story is, when adversity is knocking at your door, make yourself a cup of coffee and be grateful for all the little things that made it possible for you to enjoy that cup of coffee.

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
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