Rules are a necessity. Without rules there is chaos. But when rules are becoming too rigid it can create another type of chaos also known as tyranny. Knowing when to follow the rules and when to break them (without turning yourself into a wanted criminal) is a tall order but I have decided to tackle this subject, nonetheless.
Our whole life and existence are based on rules that we have to follow. The country we live in has a set of rules that every citizen must follow. The school where our children go has various rules. As parents, we have a set of rules in our home. Friendship and love, too, come with a bunch of rules. Rules help in bringing order to society.
When I am talking about rules and breaking the rules, I am also talking about order and chaos and the necessity to balance conservative and creative attitudes. Rules are created to protect the status quo – not to spur innovation. People in power establish rules, and those people have a vested interest in staying in power, by creating more and more rules to the point of suffocation. Two years ago, people couldn’t leave their homes without permission from some authorities. Two years ago new rules prevented extended family members to gather around a table to have a meal together.
When to follow the rules and when the break them – An existential dilemma
Limitations, constraints, boundaries, and rules ensure social harmony and psychological stability. According to Jordan Peterson, we should follow the rules except when doing so undermines the purpose of those rules. We should follow the rules until we are capable of being a shining example of what they represent but break them when those very rules hinder the spirit of why those rules were put in place in the first place. We should respect the rules except when following those rules means disregarding or ignoring or remaining blind to an even higher moral principle.
We should all try our best to understand the rules, their necessity, their sacredness, the chaos they keep at bay, how they unite the community that follows them, the price paid for their establishment, and the danger of breaking them. But we should also be willing to fully shoulder the responsibility of making an exception when this serves a higher good, an elevated moral act.
Learn rules like a pro, so that you can break them like an artist.
There is an existential dilemma that eternally characterizes human life. It is necessary to conform, to be disciplined and to follow the rules, to do humbly what others do, but it is also necessary to use judgment, vision, and truth to tell what is right when the rules suggest otherwise.
The conservative and the creative attitudes have to be balanced, both have a role in society. The conservative type carefully implements processes that have been tried and tested over time in order to produce stability and value. The creative liberal type has the ability to pinpoint how what is old and out of date could be replaced by something new and more valuable.
The balance between conservatism and originality might therefore be properly struck by bringing the two types together. Conscious wisdom is to recognize that conservatism is good (with a set of associated dangers) and creative transformation is also good (with a set of associated dangers). It is critical to be able to recognize when the balance has swung too far in one direction.
Alongside the wisdom of true conservatism is the danger that the status quo might become too rigid and a bit outdated. Alongside the brilliance of creative endeavor is the false heroism of the resentful ideologue blinded by their ideology and set in their own righteousness.
Intelligent and cautious conservatism mixed with a creative liberal attitude keeps the world in order. A certain number of arbitrary rules must be tolerated to keep the world and its inhabitants together. A certain amount of creativity and rebellion must be tolerated to maintain the regeneration process. Every rule was once a creative act, breaking other rules.
So, when to follow the rules and when to break them?
We should follow the rules until we are capable of being a shining example of what they represent but break them when those very rules hinder the spirit of why those rules were put in place in the first place. We should respect the rules except when following those rules means disregarding or ignoring or remaining blind to an even higher moral principle.
Crazy things you won’t believe used to be legal?!
There are many examples throughout history of crazy things you won’t believe used to be legal. We tend to think of the law as an obvious truth, the reality is that society pretty much makes things up as we go along. A brutal statement you may say. But take a look back at history, travel back in time when your parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were kids, and all kinds of crazy things were legal from meth to owning people, to being able to legally cut half of someone’s brain out for being gay.
Smoking. Smoking everywhere used to be legal. People used to be able to smoke everywhere from conference rooms in office places to airplanes, movie theaters, and restaurants. If you smoked, you looked cool and for women, it was even considered a symbol of emancipation and equality with men.
Drugs. In the US, pretty much all types of drugs were legal at some point or another, from the soft ones to the hard-core type. This is because most drugs were either developed originally for medical reasons, accidentally discovered in experiments, or just plants growing out of the earth that people have ingested like food since the beginning of time. In fact, drugs as a terrifying boogeyman didn’t become a thing until 1875 when the first drug laws in the U.S. were passed. Cocaine was originally used in the late 1800s as a way to treat addiction to morphine. In 1884, Sigmund Freud (a chronic coke user) even penned a love letter to cocaine, called “Uber Coca,” in which he praised the drug for its “exhilaration and lasting euphoria.” When Coca-Cola debuted in 1886, it had two major ingredients: caffeine and cocaine. Why else do you think it is called “Coke?”
Slavery. Slavery has existed since the beginning of time and was perfectly legal around the world. Europeans enslaved other Europeans, Asians enslaved other Asians, Africans enslaved other Africans and Arabs enslaved other Arabs. The color of someone’s skin was not a key factor to determine whether that person could find himself in the unfortunate position of being a slave. Those who became slaves were chosen because of their vulnerability compared to other dominant groups and not because of the color of their skin. In 1793, the British Empire became the first nation to abolish slavery by passing the first legislation to outlaw the slave trade.
Lobotomies. Partial lobotomies used to be considered an appropriate way to deal with mental illness, and an encouraging procedure to handle schizophrenia, depression, suicidal tendencies, and other unwanted social problems – like homosexuality. (It was even sometimes used to treat backaches.). The procedure became very popular and in 1949, the originator of the procedure, Portuguese neurologist António Egas Moniz, shared a Nobel Prize for its discovery. The procedure could be enforced against the individual’s will. After a relatively short surgical lifespan (the Soviet Union was the first country to outlaw the procedure in 1950 stating that it was contrary to the principles of humanity) it was noticed that dulling the emotions produced more than a few negative side effects; namely turning the patient into a vegetable, a living creature with no sign of depression, but a creature unable to focus, unable to make decisions, and unable to operate properly.
Rules to break
We are surrounded by ‘well-intended’ rules and gracious advice from teachers, parents, friends that somehow become ingrained in us. The trouble is many of those rules often aren’t true and yet they have a major influence on our lives. Those are the rules to break. Instead of blindly accepting the rules set down for us by other people, we should learn to question them, think for ourselves, and be more fluid in our judgment.
The ‘accepted’ rule is that the internet makes you anonymous. It is easy to sit all on your own in your bedroom with your computer, to think that no one can see you. You use your computer like a mask, except that your computer doesn’t conceal your real identity. You may feel a level of detachment from your social networking pages or your emails, but the people who read them are very conscious that these words or pictures come straight from you. So, you have to take responsibility for what you say and do online. If you wouldn’t say a thing to someone’s face, don’t say it to Facebook either. Be considerate of what pictures you post or the tone of the emails you send. If you wouldn’t do it or say it offline, then don’t do it or say it online. And if in doubt don’t. I say the internet doesn’t make you anonymous, but it can make you a hero or a prat.
Social media makes you all way too comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it.
Another rule to break is to make a plan and stick to it. Throughout your life, you will have a raft of people from well-intended parents to teachers, spouses, siblings, etc… who will tell you that to succeed in life you need to make a plan and stick to it. Everything we do requires us to make a plan of sorts. Making plans is part of what we do every day, we plan our days at work, our weekends, and our food shopping; we have a plan for our short, medium, and long-term goals, and that is how it should be. It is particularly important to plan ahead for the future. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark, and you dig the well before you are thirsty.
‘Make a plan and stick to it’ sounds like very good advice. It encourages discipline and perseverance. The ‘sticking to the plan part’ is what demonstrates one’s ability to persevere despite difficulties and setbacks. There are plenty of great stories of people who kept going despite the rejections. J.K. Rowling’s original synopsis of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected by 12 different publishing houses before Bloomsbury accepted it. In 2004 Forbes magazine named J.K Rowling the first person to become a billionaire by writing books. No doubt that her persistence to continue writing her novel whilst she was a single mother living on welfare paid off.
Those stories of achieving great success through sheer grit and perseverance are inspiring; we rarely hear stories that say, when the going gets tough, just give up, but these stories exist, they are just not as celebrated. Consider Isaac Newton who is famous for discovering the Law of Gravity; you may not be aware but before he achieved celebrity status, he wasted many years of his life in his quest to become a successful alchemist. Newton was obsessed with alchemy and spent years trying to decipher strange numerological codes hidden in the bible that he thought could give him the recipe for turning lead into gold. Eventually, he came to realize that his pursuit of alchemy was futile and decided to redirect his energy to more scientific pursuits, which eventually led him to discover the Law of Gravity.
Life is unpredictable. Adapt. Pivot and rectify the plan if necessary.
To follow or not to follow the rules? May the choice you make be the right choice. And this my dear friend is your Quest.
For those of my readers and followers who want to get acquainted with the tools to become a High-Value Individual, I invite you to purchase my eBook on Amazon.com. It will be a good use of your time, it is easy to read and it is packed with eye-opening information and guidance.If you wish to support my work you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon, or from Barnes & Noble. The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com
“No man is an island, entire of itself” John Donne. Human beings are social animals, and we need each other to survive and thrive. We are connected to each other, whether through blood, contract, or just through a smile, a word, or a gesture, and that connection is important for the well-being and survival of any individual.
We all have a support system to rely on. An employer relies on his employees to keep the business going and the employees rely on their employer to offer them a safe working environment and a stable structure within which to operate.
Children rely on their parents and their siblings for love and support, and parents rely on their children to provide an endless source of love with intermittent moments of frustration and anxiety and with an expectation that their children will reciprocate all the TLC they received whilst infant by looking after them in their olden days.
Friends rely on each other for love, support encouragement, a shoulder to cry on during hard times, and lots of fun times too. Out in the wild, you can find packs of animals working as a team. We often hear the expression “I am a lone wolf.” But wolves hunt in packs.
No man is an Island and this is because people exist among other people and not purely as individual minds and as a team, we achieve more.
Social interactions keep us sane, healthy, and on the straight and narrow road. Jordan Peterson expresses this sentiment quite well in Rule 1 of his new book ‘Beyond Order’: do not carelessly denigrate social institutions or creative achievement.
The social world is embedded with wisdom and guidance. People remain mentally healthy not merely because of the integrity of their own minds, but because they are constantly being reminded how to think, act, and speak by those around them. If you begin to deviate from the straight and narrow path, if you begin to act improperly, people will react. They will give you a nasty look, mock you, criticize you, and scold you back into place.
People will constantly remind you not to misbehave and will call on you to be at your best. Why rely on our own limited resources to remember the road or to orient ourselves in new territory, when we can rely on signs and guideposts placed there so effortlessly by others? All that is left for you to do is to watch, listen and respond appropriately to the cues. And this is why Jordan Peterson advises us to immerse ourselves in the world of other people, friends, family members, colleagues, and foes alike, despite the anxiety and frustrations that social interactions often produce.
Sitting at the opposite spectrum of this is the practice of solitary confinement which is used as a form of torture. Numerous studies have confirmed that keeping someone in solitary confinement puts them at a very serious risk of descending into irreversible mental illness.
No man is an island; people depend on constant communication with others to keep their minds organized.
Jordan Peterson explains that we all need to think to keep things straight, but we mostly think by talking to other people and also by reading informative blog articles such as this one! We need to talk about the past so that we can distinguish the trivial overblown concern that otherwise plagues our thoughts from the experiences that are truly important.
We need to talk about the nature of the present and our plans for the future, so we know where we are, where we are going, and why we are going there.
We must submit the strategies and tactics we formulate to the judgment of others to ensure their efficiency and resilience. We need to listen to ourselves as we talk as well so that we may organize our reactions, motivations, and emotions into something articulate and organized and dispense with those concerns that are exaggerated and irrational.
No man is an island, entire of itself. Connecting with people around us keeps us sane and helps us survive and thrive. Some people give us happiness, some give us experience, some teach us a lesson and some give us memories.
For those of my readers and followers who want to get acquainted with the tools to become a High-Value Individual, I invite you to purchase my eBook on Amazon.com. It will be a good use of your time, it is easy to read and it is packed with eye-opening information and guidance.
This is a story that you want to read. Stories teach us about life, about ourselves, and about others. There are two ways to learn valuable life lessons that will teach us to become a little bit smarter and wiser. The first method is through trial, error, and personal experience and the second method is through storytelling. The downside of the first method is that it will no doubt bring you a fair amount of pain and suffering, which is something that we all want to avoid as much as possible. Learning life lessons through someone else’s struggle and ordeal is a much less painful way to go about it whilst still bringing the same benefits.
In stories, we capture and observe the actions of the ideal personality or otherwise referred to in this article as the High-Value Individual. The stories we create, watch, listen to and emulate are those that showcase actions and attitudes we find interesting and compelling.
High-Value Individuals know themselves, but it is not enough.
According to Aristotle, knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. But it is not enough, the important question that we should also ask ourselves is who could we be? Everyone has the sense that there is more to them than they have yet allowed to be realized.
Achieving our full potential could be hindered by poor health, misfortune, and the tragedies of life; but it can also be hindered by an unwillingness to take full advantage of the opportunities that life offers, abetted by all sorts of errors such as lack of discipline, faith, imagination, and commitment.
But if you want to be the hero of your own movie then read on because this article and eBook will give you some tools to become a High-Value Individual. From the beginning of time, knowledge was shared from generation to generation thanks to storytellers who used their artistry to pass on information, knowledge, and wisdom to their community.
Well-chosen words breathe hope into us when our spirits are broken, revive us when our bodies are weary, lift our spirits up when we lose ourselves in an ocean of despair, redeem the wrong we feel, and make us stronger than we know.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to become a High-Value Individual.
High-Value Individuals are compelling
High-Value Individuals learn how to walk before they can run. Being compelling is your training ground to become a High-Valued Individual. It is not a walk in the park. It requires a lot of work, discipline, and the ability to learn from your mistakes; you will need to demonstrate patience and perseverance.
Whether we are realizing it or not we are always influencing people, whether it is to get our toddler to eat their carrots and broccolis or convince our colleagues, our boss, or our business partner to adopt alternatives way of doing things, or to help our friend and family to adopt healthy living habits, being compelling is how we make things happen in this world.
We are always influencing people. The moment we step into a room we create an impression of ourselves by the way we are dressed, the expression we have, and the energy we exalt. But is this impression the one we mean to be creating? Could we be forging better connections and a stronger influence if we knew how to be more intentional about the impressions we are generating?
People thrive for connection. We all want to hang out and do business with people with positive vibes. Do not underestimate the power of exchanging something as simple as a smile with a total stranger or holding the door for someone who is behind you.
Being compelling is all about learning the art of striking a perfect balance of strength and warmth and finding your authentic self in the process. We don’t need to portray something we’re not, but we do need to play up to our positives and pay attention to the signals we’re sending others.
You play up to your strengths when you can display your skills and convey your capability in a straight and effective manner with confidence and no arrogance.
You convey warmth when you can create a sense of connection, understanding, compassion, and genuine care for the other person. You put these two ingredients together and you end up with a powerful elixir that can generate respect and affinity.
How much strength and affinity can you display? It will depend on your communication style.
There is so much to say about this subject of being a High-Value individual that I felt I couldn’t do justice to it in a short blog article, so I decided to turn the whole exercise into a 35 pages eBook – How to Become a High-Value Individual.
For those of my readers and followers who want to get acquainted with the tools to become a High-Value Individual, I invite you to purchase my eBook on Amazon.com. It will be a good use of your time, it is easy to read and it is packed with eye-opening information and guidance.
Many people consider the poem “If” written in 1895 by the British writer Rudyard Kipling to be one of the most inspirational poems ever written. The poem provides advice on how one should live one’s life with restraint, moderation, and composure. Kipling’s poem is addressed to his son to help him understand what it takes to be successful in life and how to handle defeat when it occurs, but the advice can be assimilated by anyone who is reading the poem.
Poetry is an art that lies in the soul and spirit of man since the beginning of times. The writing of great poetry has been a beautiful vehicle for expressing one’s thoughts, observations, historical events, and various philosophies about life. A great poem, unlike a novel or a short story, can be easily digested and absorbed and can become part of us. We can always rely on our favorite poem to lift our spirits up when we are not feeling our best.
Poetry is an art hidden in complex imagery and philosophy. It awakens our senses and gives us pleasure. Its language is charged, intense, and sophisticated and will stay with us long after you’ve read them. Reading poems is a kind of magical experience because they can mean anything, they are for interpretation rather than argument. Understanding their true meaning allows us to connect, relate, and find meaning in our own experiences.
While Kipling wrote poetry, novels, and articles, he is most notably known for his collection of short stories called the Jungle Book. Kipling won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.
“If” by Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating. And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master. If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, and stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings and never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue. Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you. If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it. And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
1. Composure and self-restraint.
Kipling advises his son (and with him anybody who is ready his poem) to move through life with composure and to exercise self-control, integrity, and humility.“If you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.”
Kipling advocates that we should not let triumph nor disaster go to one’s heads. Composure and self-restraint makes it possible to act with dignity in all circumstances and to lead a respectable life. He encourages people to calmy devote themselves to rebuilding their life if it ever goes to shambles, and remain reasonable and diligent even when times are tough.
Kipling also insists that people shouldn’t become too smug about their own measured and virtuous way of navigating life. “Don’t look too good, nor talk too wise.” The idea is to steer away from vanity (in the sense of merely wanting to look like a good guy) in favor of simple level-headedness. People need to find a happy medium between confidence and modesty. Those who succumb to neither vice nor vanity are those who are capable of persevering through hardship “their Will always telling them to Hold on! ”The idea is that composure leads to strength and integrity.
Learn to be confident without being vain. Be confident in yourself and develop your ability to understand others even if that means understanding that people will not always like or agree with you. “If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you but make allowance for their doubting too.”
Have patience. Don’t lie. Don’t hate. Dream but stay grounded. “If you can wait and not be tired of waiting. Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies. Or being hated, don’t give way to hating.”
Success is never final. Failure is never fatal it is the courage to continue that count. Kipling calls ‘triumph’ and ‘disaster’ imposters because both of these events don’t last long. The small triumphs in life should be celebrated and they taste sweet but staying in the hallucination of victory is an addiction and enslavement. Victory and defeat don’t last. This too shall pass. Accept hardship without dwelling on them. “If you can dream – and not make dreams your master. If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim. If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same.”
Be aware of dishonest and harmful people. They will twist your words to serve their own agendas. But deal with them with dignity. “If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools. Or watch the things you gave your life broken. And stood and build them with worn-out tools.”
If you fail, pick yourself up and start again, and don’t dwell on your loss. When the going gets tough get tougher. Be resilient. Endure the hard time even if that feels both physically and emotionally impossible. “If you can make one heal of all your winnings. And risk it on one turn of pitch and toss. And lose and start again at your beginnings. And never breathe a word about your loss. If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone. And so hold on when there is nothing in you. Except for the Will which says to them “Hold On.!”
6. Be authentic, be yourself.
Treat everyone the same the lowest of the low and the highest in society. Display Tender, Love and care but exert detachment when required. “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue. Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch. If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you. If all men count with you, but none too much.”;
7. Know the value of time.
Time is of the essence don’t waste it. The phrase ‘unforgiven minute’ is a metaphor for life. Time is always unforgiving. You can never get back time that has been wasted away. “ If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.”
Today I am taking you on an adventure to Fairyland to be sprinkled with fairy wisdom. Once there was a competition to know who was the smartest fairy in Fairyland. The Water Fairy, the Green Fairy, and the Frost Fairy were going to compete. The three competing fairies had to answer 3 questions.
The first question was: What do you give to others but still try to keep?
The second question was: What does everyone need, want, and ask, but never take?
The third question was: What can you never get rid of when you lose it?
The Water Fairy had all the answers and enlighten us with her fairy wisdom.
Fairy Wisdom 1: What do you give to others but still try to keep?
We give promises to others and try to keep them. Making promises is easy. Honoring them is another story. We make promises for lots of reasons, and our intentions are usually good. We want to help someone in need. We want to make people happy. But sadly, our actions don’t always measure up to the promises we make. Why is this?
There could be a few reasons. It is possible that we don’t realize that we’ve made or implied a promise. We forgot what we’ve said. We get sidetracked by other events. We lose enthusiasm when we realize that keeping our word is harder than we expected. We haven’t allowed enough time, or we have a scheduling conflict. We lack the power to do what we’ve said we’d do.
You may get away with letting someone down once or twice, but if you keep going back on your promises, the consequences could be deep and enduring, whether on a professional or personal level. It is better not to over-commit yourself to do something if you know that you are not going to have the time or the capacity to do it. Do not make a promise if you know that you can’t keep it. But if you do make a promise to someone, do everything you can to keep your word. Your reputation and trustworthiness depend on it.
And please, don’t forget to treat promises to yourself as seriously as promises to others. Make sure that you keep the promise you made to yourself to take care of your physical and mental health on a daily basis, to manage your personal finances with care and attention, to spend time with family and friends, to spend time reflecting on what is most important to you in life and to live and work according to your deepest values. When you make and keep promises to yourself, you become a better, more fully realized version of yourself, which benefits not only you but everyone around you.
Fairy Wisdom 2: What does everyone need, want, and ask, but never take?
Advice is what everyone needs, wants, and asks for but is never willing to take. Receiving advice and guidance is often seen as the passive consumption of wisdom. When the exchange is done well, people on both sides of the table benefit. Those who are truly open to advice and guidance develop better solutions to problems than they would have on their own. They add nuance and texture to their thinking. Those who give advice effectively yield soft influence – they help shape important decisions while empowering others to act.
The whole interaction is a subtle and intricate art. What is required on both sides is emotional intelligence, self-awareness, restraint, diplomacy, and patience. Ignore as much as possible the temptation to overstep by giving unsolicited advice. Giving unsolicited advice is usually considered intrusive and is seldom followed anyway. Best not to venture over that boundary.
For people who seek advice, act on the advice you’ve received if it resonates with you, and don’t forget to make real-time adjustments. Advice is best treated as provisional and contingent, not a fixed path forward. Things change all the time. What is true today may not be true tomorrow. Stay alert and present. For the giver of advice, walk your talk, and make a note to follow your own advice once in a while.
Fairy Wisdom 3: What can you never get rid of when you lose it?
The one thing you can never get rid of even if you lose it is one’s temper. We all know what anger is because we have all felt it. The academic definition of anger is an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by psychological and biological changes; when you are angry, your heart rate, blood pressure, your adrenaline and cortisol levels go up.
Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats. It inspires powerful, often aggressive feelings and behaviors, which allows us to fight to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is not a bad thing and is necessary for our survival. But anger can become problematic when it is frequent and out of control.
We all have different triggers to make us lose it; but some people are more ‘hotheaded’ than others. They get angry more easily and more intensely than the average person does. There are also those who don’t show their anger in loud spectacular ways but are chronically irritable and grumpy. Easily angered people don’t always curse and throw things; sometimes they withdraw socially, become passive-aggressive, and sulk. People who are easily angered have a low tolerance for frustration, they feel that they should not have to be subjected to frustration, inconvenience, or annoyance. Things should go their way always. Angry people tend to think that they are morally right and that any blocking or changing of their plans is an unbearable indignity.
My (unsolicited) advice to the angry/grumpy person, would be to take some deep breaths, take some time out, and go read a book about anger management; if you don’t have time to read a book you could read or re-read this article and get sprinkled with some fairy wisdom.
[This is going to be a long story but if you read only one blog article this year, I suggest you read this one. Some deep secrets are going to be revealed… Make yourself comfortable because secrets such as this one cannot be revealed in a few paragraphs. I am going to take you on an epic journey. Off we go]
The world we are living in is chaotic and uncertain. Nothing is easy, we have to fight our way through everything. Everybody has problems, issues, and dramas to deal with and if you add to this some unexpected world events and some natural disasters then life becomes quite tricky. Wherever we are in the world, we all want the same thing. We all want to survive and thrive. We want to be happy, healthy, and wealthy. Surely, there must be a secret to stepping out of this chaotic world and getting to this Eldorado. Good news: there is a secret. It’s VUCA! You can watch the full documentary by joining UNIFYD TV where you will have access to a treasure trove of mindblowing information.
The US Army War College saw signs in 1987 that the world was becoming more volatile, more complex, more interconnected, more uncertain, and dangerously ambiguous. They put their best minds to work and came up with a military strategy known as V.U.C.A: Volatility. Uncertainty. Complexity. Ambiguity. From its very outset, the VUCA concept was put together to give US soldiers the ability to survive and thrive in times of crisis.
This military strategy (which is unknown to most) is the secret to survive and thrive in this chaotic world. For those of you who wish to follow me on this Quest to find this Eldorado, read on; I am going to take you on an epic journey. I have in my possession the “secret” roadmap that will take us out of this chaotic world and straight to the hero’s journey. How did I come to possess such valuable information; you may ask? All was revealed to me in a documentary I watched recently called It’s VUCA – The Secret to Surviving in the 21st Century by Michael Schindler.
This article is based on this documentary and on some of the previous blog articles I wrote in the past which complement the VUCA concept quite well.
Life is a battlefield. Nothing is easy, we have to fight our way through everything; with this in mind, it would be a good idea for us to familiarize ourselves with combat strategy and learn the best tricks in the book from trained warriors.
The secret to survive and thrive in this chaotic world is to first recognize that we live in a chaotic world
There is no doubt that we are living in a VUCA world where things are Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. The Covid Era will be remembered as the age of despair, fractured communities where we were forced to alienate ourselves from our families, friends, colleagues, and clients. People were living in a state of fear, stress, sadness,and uncertainty and were bombarded by information, new regulations, and emergency decrees that were complex and ambiguous. There seems to be more pain than we could heal, more dissent than we could mediate, and more uncertainty than we could comprehend.
The Covid Era taught us all that we are living in interesting times and learning how to navigate between order and chaos is critical. Everyone experiences the world through chaos, order, and something in between called consciousness.
Order is explored territory. It is the authority, the structured society. Order is tribe, religion, home, and country. Order is where the world’s behavior matches our expectations and desires, the place where all things turn out the way we want them to.
Chaos is unexplored territory. Chaos is the place you find yourself when things fall apart, when your dream dies, your career collapses, or your marriage ends. Chaos is when we don’t know where we are. When we don’t know what we are doing, and we don’t know where we are going.
Volatility turns our world upside down. We live in a volatile world where we have to face changes that are unpredictable and frequent with devastating impacts on our lives, jobs, businesses, and relationship. When uncertainty reigns, no one can predict with confidence what’s going to happen next. People feel hopeless. How we can find hope amid uncertainty and conflict? In a VUCA world, the volume of information to process is complex, overwhelming, and staggering. It is like being asked to play chess every day whilst the rules of the game keep changing all the time. Ambiguity is the name of the game. What is causing the chaos is unclear and confusing. There is no roadmap to follow, no landmarks, and no signposts.
Life is a battlefield, it is in the nature of most living organisms to engage in battles, have defense mechanisms, defeat their opponents, assert power and dominate. With humans, we see this happening in wars, in business, on a soccer field, in video games, and the chances are even when we are not waging war against our environment, we are waging war against ourselves. So how do you win everyday battles?
“If you know the enemy and you know yourself you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. But if you know neither the enemy nor yourself you will succumb in every battle.”
Sun Tzu claimed that the highest victory is defeating the enemy without fighting. Unfortunately, this ideal proposition is not always an option, sometimes you have no other option but to fight. That is why in life we ought to pick our battles carefully, we have to decide which battles are worth fighting and which are a waste of energy and resources. When push comes to shove and you have no choice but to fight, get into the arena and fight like your life depends on it, because it does. And please don’t wait for the cavalry to come and save you. The calvary ain’t coming, you are the calvary.
In life, you need to have the courage to fight those battles. Courage is not an absence of fear, courage is the mental preparedness and ability to deal with difficult challenges, and sometimes seemingly impossible circumstances. It is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, intimidation, and other threats.
And this is where the big secret is revealed…
The secret is that you fight VUCA with VUCA. What you have to do is flip the script by turning the negative VUCA into a positive VUCA. Volatility can be countered by Vision. Uncertainty can be countered by Understanding. Complexity can be countered by Clarity. Ambiguity can be countered by Agility.
When you go into battle you need ammunition.
Ammunition number 1: Vision
In order to have vision, you first need to observe. Looking at something produces nothing. Observing on the other hand produces insights. According to the Oxford dictionary, “Observation is the action or process of observing something or someone in order to gain information.” Our observation skills inform us about objects, events attitudes, and phenomena using one or more senses. Improving our observation skills allows us to “listen” with more than our ears and make better decisions.
When we observe we can take a step back to peer into ourselves and others. Observing ourselves is crucial but observing others is essential as it provides another angle. When you combine the two the observation of ourselves and others you get valuable insights that you can use to better connect and communicate with people. Developing your observation skills will help you develop a better vision.
Get into the habit of observing the world as it is, in all its variety learning from it, and putting what you learned into use in your decision-making process, in improving your intuition, in building your relationships, and in developing your foresight and vision.
Ammunition number 2: Understanding
In order to understand the people and the world around you, you have to develop your ability to listen and to think for yourself.
“When you talk you are only repeating something that you already know. But if you listen you may learn something new.”
Before you assume learn the fact. Before you judge, understand why. Before you hurt someone, feel. Before you speak, think. Before you talk, Listen. Listening is key to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood. As a result, communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated.
Effective communication also starts with the understanding that people are not mind readers. Expecting people to guess your wishes and aspirations is only to bring frustration and resentment. If you want something from someone express yourself clearly. If you use the right word, the right tone of voice, and the right body language, you are increasing your chance of having your wishes and aspirations become a reality. Listening means paying attention not only to the story but how it is told. The use of language, the tone of voice, and how the person uses his or her body are important. Pay attention. It means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages.
We all think of ourselves as rational creatures, but in reality, humans are deeply irrational and are often governed by emotion rather than logic. Moreover, we have a tendency to operate within our own echo chamber, where the only information that goes through our brain is information that validates our prior knowledge vindicates our prior decisions, or sustains our existing beliefs.
Critical thinking means many things but at heart, it means a search for the truth. Critical thinking helps us determine what is real and what is not. But before we are able to exercise our cognitive ability to think we need to have a certain base of knowledge as a starting point. We can only think critically about things that we have knowledge of.
We should get into the habit from time to time of walking down the road less traveled the one taken by critical thinkers. If you decide to walk down that road it will require that you possess a certain fluidity of mind, some discipline, and be driven by the will to get to the truth of the matter rather than the urge to be righteous no matter what.
We live in a world of double standards, flagrant contradictions, and intolerance. It seems that people these days are incapable of having discussions with someone with who they strongly disagree, and have a civilized exchange based on reason rather than rage. It is a very sorry state of affairs. Preaching intolerance in the name of tolerance is a frightening contradiction that doesn’t seem to faze some people. But that is the VUCA world where are living in.
As a VUCA warrior, you will be a dangerous person if you know how to observe, listen, think (for yourself) and act accordingly.
Ammunition number 3: Clarity
There are 2 types of people in this world. Those who see clearly and those who don’t. People who see clearly are confident in themselves and in their abilities. Confident people know who they are, what they want, and how they should go about it. They have a road map; they have a destination in mind and have planned the journey ahead. They have determination, discipline, and a sense of purpose and they go through their life journey in a state of joy, happiness, and grace.
People who don’t see clearly are lost, they drift, they are discouraged, they keep changing their mind and instead of going forward towards the light (there is always light at the end of the tunnel) they turn around in circles, wandering endlessly and compulsively but not really going anywhere and their life journey ends up being a journey full of pain and suffering.
The lack of clarity triggers different types of reactions in people. Some people will opt for burying their heads in the sand and continue to operate on autopilot. Others will sink into despair or run around in a state of panic not knowing what to do, holding on to their anger, resentment, and suffering.
Suffering is part of life everybody has problems, issues, and dramas to deal with. Jordan Peterson advocates that we should bear our own cross, our own suffering, transcend it and then try to reduce it by becoming some kind of hero to ourselves and to people around us. So how do we become heroes? Not by wearing a cape, jumping from building to building trying to save the world. We become heroes by becoming a better person every day, shining our own light into the world. [Hold that thought, more on this later.]
“Your mind is like this water my friend. When it is agitated, it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.”
All of us without hesitation would prefer if given the choice, to be in the skin of one of those people who can see clearly. However, life is never black or white life is a lot more complex than that and you can bet that all of us will have periods where we experience moments of clarity, where everything is in harmony where we feel that we are on top of the world and we know where we are going, but we will also experience moments when we lack clarity, when we are filled with doubts and feel discouraged and drift not knowing where we are going.
If Clarity was a commodity that could be purchased the chance is that commodity would become the most precious item one could own. The problem is you cannot obtain Clarity from someone else you cannot buy Clarity and you cannot unfortunately receive it as a gift from someone else. You will have to find it yourself. Clarity will make your thoughts, your emotions, and your actions congruent with each other.
Buddhists believe that: “The world is like muddy water. To see through it, we have to let things settle. We can’t be disturbed by initial appearance. And if we are patient and still the truth will be revealed to us.”
Ammunition Number 4: Agility
As VUCA Warriors we should be agile, we should learn the art of mobility. In the military world, the ability to maneuver cross-country and in the most restrictive terrain is essential. In life, if you are stuck in your own self-righteous and rigid way of doing things then you will lack the mobility to advance. Stiffness of thoughts originates from an inability to think critically preferring instead to submit yourself to groupthink and an ideology without questioning it.
The world is not black and white there are several shades of grey in between. Things change all the time. What is true today may not be true tomorrow. You don’t need a group, a leader, or some media platforms to tell you how to think and how to act. Don’t let people put you into a box and stick a label on it because that makes you predictable, vulnerable, and controllable. Be your own person be curious about what’s going on, ask questions, and think for yourself.
And please, stop asking for permission when you don’t have to. From the day we are born, we spend our lives asking for permission for everything. It starts with our parents, our teachers, our boss, our spouse, or our leader, and it goes on and on. Being compliant, obedient, and asking for permission might serve us well in a civilized society as we learn how to control our wants and desires; but the irony and eventual quiet tragedy of that is that in some instances, our wants and desires might not have a possessor, a licensor or a permit giver. It may lay outside the realms of ownership. There may be broad indifference to whether we act in some way or not. There may be no law or no one to be upset by our move. The desired thing in question might just belong to whoever dares to step forward and take it. There is no formal procedure, it’s just the courage to imagine that it could be yours. I say, stop asking for permission, if you don’t have to. Learn to be more autonomous and agile.
If you have the Vision, the Understanding, the Clarity of mind, and the Agility; congratulations, you have passed the test to be a VUCA warrior.
The secret to survive and thrive in this chaotic world is to recognize the necessity to act on our VUCA warrior attitude and combat obstacles on our journey
This is where storytelling comes into play. The VUCA world is laced with dilemmas, and problems you can’t solve, problems that won’t go away. Storytelling is critical in the VUCA world because stories take us into the unknown, they teach us about facing conflicts and overcoming fear and obstacles. We are all looking for clear answers to our questions, clear paths to follow, and clear solutions to our problems.
There are two ways to learn valuable life lessons that will teach us to become a little bit smarter and wiser. The first method is through trial, error and personal experience and the second method is through storytelling. The downside of the first method is that it will no doubt bring you a fair amount of pain and suffering, which is something that we all want to avoid as much as possible. Learning life lessons through someone else’s struggle and ordeal is a much less painful way to go about it whilst still bringing the same benefits. And this is why storytelling is so important. Stories teach us about life, about ourselves and about others.
The importance of storytelling
We should not underestimate the writer’s role in society. From the beginning of time, knowledge was shared from generation to generation thanks to storytellers who used their artistry to pass on information, knowledge, and wisdom to their community.
Well-chosen words breathe hope into us when our spirits are broken, revive us when our bodies are weary, lift our spirits up when we lose ourselves in an ocean of despair, redeem the wrong we feel, and make us stronger than we know.
Do not underestimate the writer’s role in society, because writers bring to the world something that no one else can… they shape the world. Writers have the power through their words to educate, heal and illuminate the mind.
“A poet’s work is to name the unnamable, to point to fraud, to start arguments, to shape the world, and to stop it going to sleep. Writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things that go on in the world of uncertainty, doubts, dreams, love, deception … that go on, slipping like sand through our fingers. To understand just one life, you just have to swallow the world. Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest place in human society and in the human spirit, where I go to find not absolute truth, but the truth of the tale, of the imagination of the heart.”
Storytelling gives us that clarity and can give us the courage to act, and the motivation to be resilient. For sure we can turn to real and/or fictional heroes for inspiration and motivation but ultimately you have to embark on your own hero’s journey and become the hero of your own story. Remember. The cavalry ain’t coming, you are the cavalry.
The hero’s journey
Heroes are admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or their noble qualities. Heroes may be exhausted, but they persevere. They may be fearful, but they face danger courageously; still, they do not quail in the face of countless obstacles and danger. Heroes are undeterred by profoundly insurmountable difficulties and most of all they don’t allow themselves to be intimidated by destructive forces that cross their paths.
History is full of admirable heroes who fought against tyranny but in the modern era Are there any heroes left? If you live in a tyranny, would you know it? And if you did, are there any heroes left to fight against it? It is not a good idea to expect a noble knight to come on his white horse to save you. Save yourself. I believe that there is a new breed of heroes that are emerging. They are difficult to spot because they don’t wear a cape and a mask, they don’t jump from building to building, they don’t ride on a white horse; they are hiding in plain sight, they are amongst us hidden by their familiarity, they are hiding in you and me. Today’s heroes are you and me and anybody who has the courage to stand up when demoralized people are kneeling in submission.
Remember that a hero’s journey begins at the end of our comfort zone. A comfort zone is an artificial mental boundary within which we maintain a sense of security and out of which we experience great discomfort. Each one of us has our own boundaries that delineate our comfort zone, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all-comfort-zone model, but what you must know is that all the comfort zone is concerned about is keeping you inside of it.
A lot of people will have a natural inclination for staying inside their comfort zone even if they are unhappy and unfulfilled, first and foremost because it is familiar and safe, but most of all because they are afraid of the unknown, the risk of failure, and/or being hurt. They would rather stay wrapped up in their little cocoon, preferring to stay warm and cozy.
The only problem with this is that even if you have a strong desire to stay warm and cozy forever and have no inclination to do more than is absolutely necessary, sometimes life doesn’t give you that choice. The Covid Era is a great testimony of this. Ultimately, the hero within you will have to leave their cozy comfort zone and head into the scary unknown. At this point, courage and resilience are required to face doubts, interferences, and weaknesses; but what the hero will gain in the process are courage, a new perspective, and some wisdom.
In life, you need to have courage in order to fight those battles. Courage is the mental preparedness and ability to deal with difficult challenges and sometimes seemingly impossible circumstances. It is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, intimidation, and other threats.
Courage is not a quality that you are born with. It is one that has to be cultivated and honed. Today, we typically associate courage with heroic deeds but being courageous does not necessarily entail doing something dramatic or astoundingly heroic, everyday living requires courage. When we work to develop courage, we both empower ourselves with the ability to confront problems head-on, as well as acquire the skills required to deal with life’s inevitable challenges.
VUCA demands more from you. It demands more energy, more focus, more strength,and more resilience. Look at every day as being a VUCA warrior in training getting ready to get into the arena and fight as and when necessary.
The secret to survive and thrive in this chaotic world is to become antifragile. Human beings are fragile animals, but we are also resilient, rational beings with foresight, discernment, and the ability to survive and even thrive. Nobody knows what is going to happen next so we should get comfortable being uncomfortable while uncertainty reigns.
“Uncertainty is the very conditions that impels man to unfold his powers. As we navigate our own uncertain times together, may a thousand flowers of sanity bloom, each valid so long as it is viable in anchoring the human spirit it animates. And may we remember the myriad terrors and uncertainties preceding our own which have served as unexpected awakenings from some of our most perilous civilization slumbers.”
We live every day with the knowledge of our staggering fragility, and we know how physiologically vulnerable our body and mind can be. We are aware that terrible outcomes are always possible and often probable. Your Quest as a human being is to protect yourself against the danger of losing your life but also against the danger of losing your mind. When the going gets tough, be tougher.
This knowledge of our own vulnerability makes us go back and forth between ecstatic optimism and sheer despair. In order to cope with that awareness and to counterweigh the heavy sense of our own fragility we often rely on the hope that somehow, we will be strong enough to withstand rare and unexpected events which the author Nassim Taleb refers to asBlack Swans Events.
In his book, The Black Swan (2007) Taleb focuses on the extreme impact of rare and unpredictable events which are events impossible to predict due to their extreme rarity. As Black Swan Events may result in catastrophic consequences it is important for people always to assume, however, unlikely that they are possible and plan accordingly. In his book, Taleb urges his readers to not attempt to predict Black Swans Events but to build robustness to their negative impacts. The world is too complex for anyone to understand or predict exactly what is going to happen, and rather than naively try to predict Black Sawn Events we just need to be aware of the possibility and adjust to their existence by becoming antifragile.
In his book, Antifragile (2012) Taleb explains that all systems can be categorized as fragile, robust, or antifragile. Fragile things are exposed and destroyed by volatility. Robust things resist. Antifragile things benefit from it.
“Some things benefit from shock they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder stressors and uncertainty. Antifragility is beyond resilience and robustness. The resilient resists shock and stay the same. The antifragile gets better. The fragile wants tranquility. The antifragile grows from disorder.”
Nassim Taleb urges people to stop using the observable past as an indicator of the future – Don’t be a Turkey! Turkey is fed for 1000 days and thinks that everything is all right and food will be coming. On day 1001 the day before Thanksgiving everything changes.
“Uncertainty is our discipline and understanding how to act under conditions of incomplete information is the highest and most urgent human pursuit.”
Below are 4 tips to become tougher and antifragile:
Become antifragile and tougher by removal. The solution to many problems in life is solved by removal, and not by addition. Living a healthy life is more about removing sugar, processed food, and unhealthy snacks from your diet. Similarly, people become wealthy by reducing their exposure to going bust. Professional athletes win games by removing mistakes.
Become tougher and antifragile by being healthy. Treat your body as a temple worship it every day. Being unhealthy makes our immune system weak, which makes us more prone to disease, which in turn makes us fragile. Hippocrates is known for saying: “let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.” According to this doctrine, the body contains within itself the power to rebalance and heal itself.
Become tougher and antifragile by optionality. The more options you have the more freedom you have to respond to unforeseen circumstances, thus reducing your fragility to Black Swan Events. If you have optionality you don’t need to be right that often. All you need is the wisdom not to do things that will hurt your and to be able to recognize favorable outcomes when they arise.
Become tougher and antifragile through trial and error. Try new things and find out through a process of trial and error what works and what doesn’t. If an idea doesn’t work, make it fail quickly then move on to the next one. Play safe in some areas of your life and take some risks in others.
And this my dear friend is your Quest – Become a VUCA warrior!
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.
“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”.
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.
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.
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!
For some people finding their passion is easy, they were born knowing what it was. For others, finding their passion is not so obvious. The problem is that a lot of people believe that their passion is hiding somewhere, maybe behind a tree or underneath a rock. The truth is that our passion comes first from doing things, and then doing them right. We should get into the habit of injecting passion into eveything we do. If we do this consistently, a time will come when something will stand out above all the other things, and that is the very thing that we should devote more time to doing passionately. That’s all there is to it, just do it .
Find your passion. Make your life a work of art
It is possible to have a passion and still feel demotivated and deflated because you can’t see any results. The problem these days is that people are impatient, they expect instantaneous results. That’s not how things work. Being successful at something requires hard work, sweat, tears, discipline, and patience. Don’t focus on the outcome, focus on the work itself. Pursue the things you love doing and devote yourself to hone your craft on a daily basis. Eventually, people will not be able to take their eyes off you.
If you still feel dispassionate and have no passion to create anything, take note of what the philosopher Carl Jung has to say on this subject.
“If you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself. To give style to one’s character is a great and rare art.”
Consider making your life a work of art. You have yourself to begin with and a time of uncertain duration to work on it. You do not have to be who you are, even though you may be quite content with who and what you are; it will not be hard for you to think of something greater than you might become; it need not be something spectacular or even something that will attract any notice from others. What it will be is a kind of excellence that you project for yourself and then attain. Something you can look at with honest self-appraisal and be proud of. Make your life a work of art!
Find your passion. Be an artist, create, innovate
I am an author, blogger & storyteller but I like to describe myself as an artist because it is more suited to my state of mind, it is more fluid.
I am an artist. I am a creator of ideas. Swimming in a sparkling sea of imagination. A magician of sorts turning thoughts of wonderment into pieces of originality. Each creation showcases my own personal journey. My worries, dreams and ambitions. Everything I love and everything I fear. All that I was yesterday and all that I’ll be tomorrow is neatly contained in my glorious creations. When you glance over my work, you are catching a glimpse of my soul. For a part of me is each piece I create. I march to my own beat and wildly dance ot my own rhythm. Passion runs through my veins and emotions are fuel for my craft. Certain pieces I protect and keep to myself. While others I’ll share with the world. I am a creative beacon shining my light brightly. For all the Universe to see.
And this, my dear friend is Your Quest – Make your life a work of art. Over to you!
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?
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.
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.
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
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.”
“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
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
Saddle up: Mount the horse, stay mounted, and enjoy the ride.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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?
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.”
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 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.”
3. Be mindful. Show appreciation for people and the world around you.
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.
Today, we celebrate women. Happy International Women’s Day to all the women out there! Remember to be your own fabulous self today and every day! Dream what you want to dream. Go where you want to go. Be what you want to be. Ride your own wave. March to your own beat, sing your own songs, write your own book and wildly dance to your own rhythm like nobody is watching. Don’t be afraid to shine your light as far and as wide as you can and remember that
“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save. They just stand there shining”
Today’s blog article is dedicated to women from every corner of the world; it is a snapshot of my thoughts, vision and aspirationS for women, but most of all it is a celebration.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Your Quest my dear, is not to find yourself but to create yourself. Make your life a work of art, because that is the only place where you can do whatever you like and tremember that to give style to one’s character is a great and rare art.
“Consider making your life a work of art. You have yourself to begin with and a time of uncertain duration to work on it. You do not have to be who you are, even though you may be quite content with who and what you are; it will not be hard for you to think of something greater than you might become; it need not be something spectacular or even something that will attract any notice from others. What it will be is a kind of excellence that you project for yourself and then attain. Something you can look at with honest self-appraisal and be proud of. Make your life a work of art!”
Don’t let people put you in a box and stick a label on it before they even get the chance to know you. You are the sum total of your genetics, your upbringing, but also the books you read, the countries you travel to, the ups and downs that can be on your path. Respect people but do not worship them. Be a giver, but give yourself enough time and space to advance your interests too. Today you can decide to be as exuberant and as colorful as you want and tomorrow, you can decide to be as dull as the grey sky if you feel like it.
In order to create yourself, you need to be courageous. Being courageous doesn’t mean that you have to do bold spectacular acts of bravery and become a hero. You don’t have to be a hero, just have the courage to be yourself. Courage can show up in a very quiet manner and in thousands of unexpected ways. Deciding not to fight can sometimes be as courageous as charging into battle. Forgiveness requires a lot of courage. Learning a new skill, starting a new business venture, stepping outside your comfort zone requires a lot of courage. Standing up to bullies and speaking your mind requires a fair dose of courage. Falling in love, letting your guards down can be an act of courage. Staying positive and upbeat when facing setbacks, ill-health, old age or even death requires a lot of courage.
Let’s celebrate international women’s day by looking after our body and our mind
We live every day with the knowledge of our staggering fragility, and we know how physiologically vulnerable our body and mind can be. We are aware that terrible outcomes are always possible and often probable. Your Quest as a human being is to protect yourself against the danger of losing your life but also against the danger of losing your mind. Have a fighting spirit but choose your battles carefully. Some fights are worth fighting and others aren’t.
When the going gets tough, be tougher. Sure thing, but how?! You can become tougher by removal. The solution to many problems in life is solved by removal, not by addition. Living a healthy life is more about removing sugar, processed food, and unhealthy snacks from our diet. Similarly, people become wealthy by reducing their exposure to going bust. Professional athletes win games by removing mistakes.
“Above all do not lose your desire to walk everyday. I walked myself into a state of well-being and walked away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thoughts so burdensome that one cannot walk away from”
You can become tougher by optionality. The more options you have, the more freedom you have to respond to unforeseen circumstances, thus reducing your fragility to unexpected events. If you have optionality you don’t need to be right that often. All you need is the wisdom not to do things that will hurt yourself and to be able to recognize favorable outcomes when they arise. You can become tougher through trials and errors. Try new things and find out through a process of trials and errors what works and what doesn’t. If an idea doesn’t work, make it fail quickly then move on to the next one. Play safe in some areas of your life and take some risks in others.
Looking after your mind means setting aside some quiet time to learn the art of being still. Practicing stillness is an essential life lesson that is being taught by wise men. Let’s be guided by the words of two wise men, Socrates, and Blaise Pascal.
According to Socrates: “The source of all wisdom and clarity is to know thyself.” And according to Blaise Pascal “, All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone”.
Too often our minds are caught in a cycle of stimulus and mindless distractions, practicing the art of being still will definitely help you unclutter your mind and help you get accustomed to being in your own company, free to let your mind wander wherever it wants to go.
Being still is not an easy state of being, humans are social creatures by nature, we dread boredom, and we are unfit to endure extreme cases of isolation. If we are alone for too long our mental faculties can degrade leading to a state of insanity and deep despair. The use of solitary confinement and exile are effective tools of punishment.
But our modern-day fears are not restricted to extreme cases of isolation, rather many of us fear being alone for any period of time, and being alone is something to be avoided at all costs. Not only are we afraid of being alone individually, but we are also afraid of those around us who seem to be very happy in their own company. We see them as dangerous, unsocial, or maybe even unwanted.
The paradox these days is that we have never been so connected to each other and feel so alone at the same time. Information technology is everywhere, the invention of the radio, the telephone, television, mobile phone, and the internet has brought us closer together allowing anyone in the world instant access to another person via video conference call. These days, you just have to press a button and instantaneously you are transported to the other side of the world. The problem is, we now live in a world where we are connected to everyone except ourselves.
A paradox of stillness is that it requires you to think very deeply, but also clear your mind. In fact, this is not a paradox as once our mind is cleared and emptied insights and breakthroughs can occur. Muddy waters clear themselves through stillness; if we let them settle the truth will be revealed to us. Another paradox is that stillness does not require that you stop moving or even to be somewhere quiet, stillness can be cultivated while chaos swirls around you. Those moments, in a busy shopping mall or airport, when somehow all the external noise is filtered out and you feel a sense of calm and can focus on what is in your control, that is stillness.
Stillness is an important tool on your journey to find clarity. The ability to see clearly not only when you are meditating, but in the midst of conflict when you are frustrated, angry, or scared, will help you find a more logical, less emotional response, and give you choices to do things differently, or do nothing at all.
Let’s celebrate international Women’s Day by Being like water
Rivers represent the source of life and the forward motion of time. Rivers also symbolize the power of nature and impermanence and change that are inherent in our existence. Cities and towns often spring up on riverbanks, seemingly brought to life by the water source and the fertility of the surrounding soil. Rivers capture our imagination, not just as a physical body of water, but more like a symbol of life, strength, freedom, and much more; something that we should emulate
You cannot touch the same water twice because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of your life. The beauty is in the journey. We are always doing things for the first time, and the landscape will always be new as we move along our life journey. Let’s try to face any novelties with joy and not with fear because it is pointless to fear what cannot be avoided.
Rivers move continuously as if nothing can stop them, they are always in a forward motion, just like our lives which we cannot rewind except in our imagination. We should not wallow in our past suffering or unpleasant memories. Instead of becoming stuck in the past or worrying about what could or could not have been, we should move on with our lives focusing on the present moment and what we can do at this very moment to improve our lives.
Through twists and turns and numerous obstacles, rivers negotiate their way until they reach their destination. They flow fast when the terrain is favorable and when they encounter difficult obstacles, they negotiate their way around them. Stones should be avoided as much as possible. Trying to break a stone is a waste of your time and energy. Go around them.
The same applies to our life. We should apply ourselves to take advantage of favorable circumstances and negotiate our way through problems and difficulties. We should be flexible in our approach and avoid acting with the rigidity of a rock. We should practice the art of humility, surrender to the circumstances, and go with the flow when the circumstances recommend us to be flexible. But being flexible doesn’t mean that we should bend backward to everything and everyone. It means that we should choose our battles carefully. Some fights are worth fighting and others aren’t so. When comes a time for us to be strong and bold we should emulate the strength of water rapids coming down the valley with purpose and intent.
River flow is not constant, sometimes it runs fast when the terrain is favorable, other times it stops flowing joyfully when it enters a hole or encounters dry season. The only way to get out of this dry hole is to call on time as your ally. Call for patience and perseverance, the dry season will not last forever. When the right moment comes the hollow fills up and the water can flow again.
Rivers represent the forward motion of time. Rivers symbolize the impermanence and change that are inherent in our existence. Time is of the essence; it is the most valuable asset each person has. Every day when we wake-up, each one of us has the same amount of time to live a meaningful life, to learn, to give, to share, to experience, to make a difference, to be who you really want to be.
“Water is fluid, soft and yielding. But with time water will wear away rock which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox. What is soft is strong.”
And this my dear friend is Your Quest. Happy International Women’s day and remember to be your own fabulous self today and everyday.
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.