Being Smart vs Being Interesting

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Smart is good. I’ve always thought that one of the most flattering compliments someone could receive is to be referred to as “bright”, as I feel that word encapsulates much more than just one’s mental aptitude. The ability to learn and have a wealth of knowledge in that thing we call a brain is something to be admired.

The expression “the smartest guy in the room”, depending on how it’s used, can be a term of endearment or a flat out insult. But you can’t deny someone’s brain if it’s functioning at a level superior to your own. I know a few people (my dad being one of them) who I look at and think Wow, your mind is on a totally other level than most.

That being said, I find that most couldn’t really care less about how smart someone is anymore. And I don’t mean those simply making small talks at parties or cocktail hour. Most organizations are hiring based on personality much more than someone’s actual IQ (unless you’re trying to get inside NASA or other  similar institutions, then an exceptional IQ is required). Nowadays, in order to be successful, we all need to understand the shift that’s occurring under our feet.

No one cares about how smart you are. People care about how interesting you are.

 At 36, I’ve seen and experienced my fair share of things. But I want MOREI want to DOAnd I have the utmost respect for those people who are doers, because doers are the most interesting people on the planet. I would much rather someone walk away from having a conversation with me and think, “Wow, that guy is pretty damn interesting,” than, “Man that guy knows a lot of information (read as: useless c**p) that I could just as easily have looked up on my iPhone.”

Old stereotypes are shifting with the technological revolution that we’re living in. We’re connected to a device that can tell us anything we might want or need to know. Being intelligent used to be the main factor, the one thing that makes the difference, it simply isn’t anymore.

With that, I challenge us to make the shift from trying to learn and know about all the stuff in the world to actually living it. 

Be someone that you yourself would find interesting.

Travel the world and meet every type of person it has to offer.

Experience LIFE in a way that most people don’t and will never.

Run down the path that has never been taken.

Try different hobbies.

Try to be a musician, a dancer, a poet.

Do that one thing you’ve been aching to do just for the sake of doing it.

Live LIFE to the fullest reaches of our known existence.

I want to try all of those things. I want to LIVE Life. Because I know for sure, that in the end, I won’t regret it.

How about you? What would you prefer?

Photo credits: Google photos

The “Be Yourself” Contention

No one sees us the way we see ourselves.

Like many people, I have given and likewise have been given, over and over again, the advice: “Be Yourself”.

Pondering about it now, I realized the advice was, in some way or another, unwise and ridiculous, to say the least, terrible!

Now, before you furrow your eyebrows in rage for that comment, hear me out on this, first: because if I were to be “myself,” I would never overcome my inability as an introvert to confront uncomfortable situations such as speaking in public or in front of large groups (which I occasionally do at work as an executive and at church as minister of service) or, most importantly, never would have come up with this beautiful blog site which by the way expresses and represents  thinking and ideologies that are still considered unconventional or “out-of-the-box” to many—a manifestation of sheer boldness to trample upon “untrodden grounds”, literally quite the opposite from the makings of a “shy” person.

Going back to the subject of “being yourself”, I understand that we are currently living in the “Age of Authenticity, where “be yourself” is the defining advice in life, love and career. Authenticity is defined as erasing the gap between what you firmly believe inside and what you reveal to the outside world. Simply put: “the choice to let our true selves be seen.” 

But, would you agree if I say that being authentic does not have to mean being a slave to your inner life; acting on every impulse, sharing every feeling you have, or not caring what impact you have on others? 

In light of that, there is, to my opinion, a kind of authenticity toward which we could all strive—the kind of authenticity that entails choosing to be the you that you envision being. Of course that doesn’t mean we should try to be someone else. But if we never consciously choose who we want to be, to what “self” will we be “true”?

These are the big questions we should be asking ourselves then: Do we have the idea what we mean when we talk about finding our “true self.”? So what are we talking about when we talk about being “yourself”? Because the “self” is a highly complex array of one’s innate perspectives and responses combined with a host of one’s acquired beliefs, values, and actions.

So what does it mean to be “true to yourself”? To what “self” would you like to be “true”? If you have a biological tendency to be shy, but you want to make a difference in the world and in order to do so, you need to effectively make presentations to large audiences, do you want to be “true” to A) your biological tendency to be shy, or to B) the difference you want to make in the world? Which “self” is your “authentic self”? If you choose option A, does that mean it is “inauthentic” for you to become an incredibly good public speaker? Well, that was just an analogy.

Here’s where the difference lies, we tend to believe that we have fixed, concrete personalities or characteristics. “I am shy” or “I am outgoing” become descriptions of what we come to think are essential elements of who we are—our “true self” or “authentic self.” But, I strongly believe, that there is NO “fixed essence” of who we must be, because if that’s the case, then we are putting limits to our personal growth!

Another thing is that, many believe that being “yourself” means being true to that fictional, “fixed self,” and I stand contrary to that. Because the “self” is not immutable, is not “fixed, and is up to each of us to create, and choosing who to be is a deeply authentic way to be.

So “be yourself,” but choose wisely the self you want to be 🙂

Everything Worthwhile, Takes Time.

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Think about these…

You scan over the news, barely taking in the facts. Yet the headline and the emotion of the topic stays with you. You may even have skipped the actual article and just read the comments which dampen your mood even further. On your way home, you order at a drive through and let’s be honest – the chips or whatever you’ve gotten are finished by the time you get home. Information is instant and reaching out to the people who are not with you is fixed with a phone call. Just because you thought of something and because you worry you’ll forget about it, you send an e-mail. At least something has been done about that thought, right? We rush through conversations without really listening. How often have you thought “just get to the damn point so that I can move on to the next task!”.

 

It’s a blur. The traffic, the work, the family obligations. We are stressed out and worried and we forget to breathe deeply so anxiety takes hold. Depression follows the anxiety and when you finally have a moment to sit your fine backside down on the couch, you reach for your phone to scroll through Facebook and you slide into jealousy for all the holiday pictures and happy, smiling faces and you think “what am I doing wrong?”.

 

This obsession to get ahead, stay ahead, be faster, be quicker, get there FIRST, has taken over all people’s lives rapidly spreading like a viral pandemic. It has got to stop. Our mindset has got to change. Technology and the processes we live within are great tools – they have made our lives easier and we appreciate that. However, we don’t need to speed up to keep up with them. They need to service OUR needs. After all, we did create them for just that purpose.

 

Take a load off. Pay more attention. Instead of just replying to emails without reading them properly, take the time to understand the contents and offer a valid solution. Seventeen-odd threads on one email without a real solution is just a panic attack waiting to happen. Take time to really listen to someone else instead of just getting the crux of the story and moving on with your own perception of the situation. Read the whole story.

 

Everything worthwhile, takes time. Your finances will become a better situation if you take the time to manage them and set goals. No single individual on this planet (besides those who come from money) became wealthy, overnight. They worked and they failed and they had plans and now we read their stories and we want the same NOW. It just does not work like that. Your relationships take time. You must get to know people and connect with them to have those happy, smiling, holidaying moments. Otherwise, those moments are empty public relations snaps devoid of any real meaning. The cookie-cutter happy life on Facebook took WORK and disappointments and resilience. You are just looking at a snapshot of a piece of their story – not all the dirty details that brought them to that place.

We have been born into a world where everything must be fast and we’ve forgotten that this fast-rule applies only to certain elements of our lives. We need to remember that the good stuff, the real stuff and the stuff that means something – takes time. Stop. Breathe. Prioritize and understand that whatever it is that you are looking to create in your life is going to take TIME. Time, effort, resilience, humor, faith. No internet speed, no cellular connection and no amount of stressing will hasten the universal rules of time.

Take your time. It’s worth it.

P.S. If you liked this post, I’d be happy to hear your thoughts in the comments below. See you 🙂

Photo credits: Google photos

Your Word is your Bond

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Do you think before you make a promise to someone? What if you can’t deliver on your word? Does it really matter? The world isn’t going to come to an end, is it? Well, actually no, but have you considered . . .

Many people are pretty casual about making promises. As a result, promises are frequently made at the drop of a hat with no real intention of keeping them. “Let’s do lunch,” “I’ll call you later,” and “I’ll be there in five minutes” are all examples of throwaway promises that are frequently made but seldom kept. However, this casual attitude can have real consequences.Think about it — when someone else breaks a promise to you, or gets caught in a lie, doesn’t that make you feel violated or cheated?  You can’t help wondering whether you were wrong to ever trust that person.

There was a time when keeping your word held special significance. We took great pride in being of good character. Personal integrity was both expected and valued. That was a time when everyone knew each other’s family, and you wouldn’t do anything that would cast a shadow on your family’s good name. It was a time when integrity was instilled in children at a very early age and was viewed as instrumental in achieving success. The truth is, our world may have changed, but the importance of integrity has not. While we may not know everyone in our own town, the world is still smaller than you think. Create some bad news and you’ll learn this for yourself.

Every time you give your word, you’re putting your honor on the line. You’re implying that others can place their trust in you because you value integrity and would never let them down. It goes without saying that if you don’t live up to your word, you may end up tarnishing your credibility, damaging your relationships, and defaming your reputation. Most importantly, you’ll be letting yourself down.

But . . . when you operate with complete integrity, what you say will be taken at face value, your intentions will be assumed honorable, and your handshake will be as good as a contract. Most importantly, you can take great pride in the standards that you’ve set for yourself and sleep well at night knowing that your conscience is clear. As for others . . . just when they think they’re fooling the world, they’ll realize that they’re only fooling themselves. A promise is a promise after all.

What do you think? Are people too casual about making promises?

 

Friendship Demands Truth

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These past few days, my wife and I had been making plans to meet up with some friends we haven’t seen  for quite sometime now. Trips are already booked. We are (I mean, my wife is) finalizing the plans once we get to the place of one of our friends whom we are visiting and we’ll be staying with during said trip. Purpose of the visit: to catch some time together and rekindle the fires of friendship that had gone cold over the years of limited communications. How time has swiftly passed us all, leaving us missing each other and the memories of the times we’ve shared together. 

There are friendships that serve as wallflowers and there are those that remain true no matter what. This post is dedicated to one of the basic truths about friendship. Forget about the sweet, soft and cheesy ones for a while, let’s take it to the core and talk about the  bones — the hard stuff that holds friendship stand steadfast and strong — Truth.

What does it mean to be a friend — to be kind to another human being? We are taught in this culture that being kind means not making another person feel bad. We are conditioned to believe that it is virtuous to hide our strengths to save another from experiencing their weaknesses, to deny our blessings so that another avoids feeling their sorrows. Is this kindness? Is this friendship — to put away our truth so as to save another from experiencing their own truth — which might be sad? If this is true friendship, it is of an odd sort — true friendship that does not include the truth. Hiding the truth may keep a relationship going smoothly, but going smoothly is a paltry goal for such a precious and profound entity as friendship. When we choose smooth sailing over truth, we underestimate the weight that friendship can hold; we dishonor the very substance from which friendship is made. Are we so afraid of suffering as to be willing to sacrifice even friendship in order to avoid it?

To be a true friend is not to pretend that we don’t have different experiences in life, don’t receive different blessings and challenges. It is not to pretend that life is fair. A friendship that creates a shared experience at the lowest common denominator is not a friendship, but rather some kind of hiding place from life. We don’t need more hiding places. What we need are more foxhole buddies, true friends who can keep us company in the truth, and in the hard parts, where life isn’t okay or fair.

In truth, we do not need more ways to skirt the sorrows that are part of life, more strategies for keeping the waters smooth. What we need are friends who can accompany us through the bumpy and different truths of life. True friendship is about meeting in the place of truth, and loving and supporting each other there. Anything else is just a paler shade of polite.

I guess that’s where our (my wife and I) relationships with our friends was grounded and has grown over the years.

What are your thoughts about friendship?

Photo credits: quoteslife101.net

The Social Media Paradox

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Late last year while I was at a conference, I had an interesting conversation with someone I met there. It started when he noticed me simultaneously browsing thru Pinterest and Instagram on my phone while checking on WordPress on my laptop, and he confessed that he uses no social media despite the urging from his friends and family. For him, social media is a negative experience and is not conducive to his wants and values. That was his opinion and I respect it. Just as he respects my views when I told him my work and passions lend themselves to using social media. However, that conversation now led me to think about it in a deeper way. To it, I believe that intent and purpose are the driving factors that should be omnipotent in your relationship with social media. Is it a healthy experience for your life or is it distracting from your true values, or defining your decisions?

Social media has been a revelation to many and launched many careers. There are countless incredible accounts which have given us that all important spark of imagination or needed motivation. All of these things are wonderful – but know where the line is and where it is for you. What are your driving factors?

On the the flipside of our ability to now mass-express, we should think about whether our capabilities to interact and communicate with others on more intricate levels are suffering. How we communicate with each other has been said to be 90% body language.

An early girlfriend of Steve Jobs said that while he created something that connected the whole world, he himself couldn’t make a connection with anyone on a personal level.

What happens to our relationships when conversations are replaced with emojis?

Are we losing the subtle intricacies that come from a look or slight movement? Are we losing our attention to detail, our ability to focus or our imaginations that used to be forced to build color, people and stories amongst the pages of brilliant writers.

And in the words of one of my favorite writers, Sixto Rodriguez, I wonder.

Is this all just our way of coping with the world’s crumbling lack of etiquette, manners, moral codes and common decency? – or is it the cause of it?

I love coining quotes as much as I love reading them. I even logged into Pinterest and read hundreds of ‘pinned’ quotes. I’ve noticed some of my friends love posting quotes too, on one of the leading social media platform there is – Facebook.

You may ask, ‘Is there a problem to it?’ Nothing of huge significance, I suppose. But hear me out on this…

I believe our modern, tech-savvy lifestyles are rewarding immediacy over applied perseverance; rewarding quick, superficial gains which in turn, and rather ironically, makes many of the social’ised quotes hypocritical. Hypocritical to their very core because while we’re all well aware of the perseverance things worth achieving actually takes, (at least I hope we’re all aware), more often than not, we’re happy to take the short-cut out.

The epitome of these short-cuts being oxymorons like “Live authentically”, which is captioned under a photo of a hot boy/girl on a beach then posted to thousands of “friends” or “followers” (most of whom they haven’t personally met face to face) and subsequent “likes” on {insert social media channel here}, is just an example.

What has the world come to when people are posting things that they clearly have no connection with, and then putting them out to “friends” in the social medias. This does not amount to business sales, genuine relationships, or your own self-worth and growth. It does not tell the world you’re happy, living truthfully or that you’re a fly by the seat of your pants type happy.

It does the exact opposite. It diffuses your true self and enhances your false self.

Are we so afraid to be sad, bad, wrong, uncool, uncouth – or a combination of all of these that we have to fake a light and happy existence because we’ve skipped past the nuances of the quotes we’re reading and their implied perseverance and jumped right on to the (seemingly) quick fix happy?

Happiness. To me anyway, is a habit. It’s a choice and it’s an applied perseverance. It’s not a blessed or perfect life and it’s not a social post. It’s not immediate and it’s not fleeting. It’s not dependent on outside factors or likes. I am not Buddha and I am not Gandhi, I don’t have the answers – but I feel like paying more attention to the here and now, the people who are actually behind the technology (that’s us by the way) – might help create some lasting happy habits of my own.

My point being: social media status does not define you and your happiness and success. If your post  authentically expresses your state of happiness and success, well and good. Otherwise, look for that something by which you can express them truthfully.

 

Make Fear your friend and ally

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Even the wisest people regularly make decisions that seem rational — but aren’t.

While we often think of ourselves as rational creatures, the bigger a dilemma is or the more important a dream is, the more our choices become clouded by fear.

Have you ever turned down an exciting opportunity and played it safe instead? Have you ever made a decision out of anger and ended up hurting someone you love? Have you ever gotten so stressed that you went into survival mode and started obsessing over tiny things instead of focusing on the bigger picture? Or have you had times where you became addicted to achievement and approval?

I have. And pretty much everyone I know has done so, too. There are many faces of fear and each shows up as a limitation — as a defect that distorts our decisions, sabotages our leadership, and holds us back from the things we most want in life.

However, we usually don’t notice this. Like an iceberg, 90 percent of our fears remain out of sight, stored away in our unconscious mind. But that doesn’t mean they’re gone. Like trying to look through a layer of brown cooking grease that has been spread across a piece of glass, our hidden insecurities distort our vision and color our choices.

Instead of proclaiming themselves as such, our fears most commonly show up as innocent sounding statements that sound so reasonable — yet aren’t.

Looking deep within and in retrospect. I often caught myself on various occasions saying or thinking about the following words:

“I’m upset because…”
“I need…”
“I should…”
“I shouldn’t…”
“You shouldn’t…”
“You must…”
“I’m stressed because…”
“I can’t…”
“Yeah, I’d like to, but…”
“If I could just stop procrastinating, I would…”

Do you ever find yourself saying any of the said lines too?

If so, welcome to the human race. While each of these statements can be rational, I strongly believe that they’re almost always a sign that your choices aren’t clean, and that your decisions are being distorted by your unconscious fears.

For example, I often find myself saying things like, “I’m upset because I don’t have more money.” “I should be working harder.” “Yeah, I’d like to go on a long beach vacation with the family, but I just don’t have the time.”

And of course, “Honey, you don’t understand, I need to buy more gadgets!”

While these statements may sound reasonable, we truly need to recognize when they’re really just symptoms of our hidden fears.

While this may sound disturbing, it’s actually great news because the voice of fear can become one of your greatest allies — once you learn how to listen to it in a more effective way.

Of course, the contention of the matter always boils down to this: how to make fear an ally? 

I believe the answer would be, that is to always open your heart to meet fear fully. Just as good health requires a lifestyle of attention to diet and exercise, being at ease with fear requires an ongoing willingness to meet it directly. If you are receptive to whatever arises, as it is, you will find it does not matter if fear is present or not. Life is so rich. Every experience that arises is a friend, a gift, an invitation to break down your inner boundaries. Allow everything in always, and you will discover the peace beyond peace.

Photo source: quotefancy.com