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

Enough may never be enough

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As human beings, it seems that once we attain what we think will make us whole, we grow bored quickly and need something new in order to feel satisfied. We are addicted to what we don’t have.

You could sit down at this very moment and list out all the reasons why you’re fortunate, and while you’re writing that list you would want nothing more. You could get together with a group of people that you care about and discuss rational ideas within this irrational society, and in that moment and the hours after, you would feel comfortable with what you have and who you are; contentment feels like a legitimate possibility. It’s when you turn on your television and the talking heads tell you that you need to be rich, famous, and flawless; that your thirst for more becomes unquenchable. You forget that you are enough. You find yourself making comparisons between your life and the life of someone you assume has it all figured out, and all of your accomplishments are never enough to satisfy you.

The issue with this “never enough” mentality is that we all have it to some degree. We collectively fail to realize that even the people who have “figured it out” are on some level still as lost and broken as everyone else. That’s the drawback of being a member of the generation more interested in documenting life-like activities, rather than creating a life. If we always seem confident in the pictures and words that we post, then maybe we will start to feel that way in real life. Everyone is constantly looking for validation in the form of likes and comments to give meaning to our twisted sense of self. We honestly believe that as long as people buy into the illusion that we are happy and everything is going great, that we won’t have to face reality.

Reality is that we want all the material c**p, social media fame, and worthless validation in order to feel accepted by others. The reason all of those things bring only temporary satisfaction is that they aren’t the answer. We all keep looking for other people to accept us in order to feel whole, when all that’s truly necessary is that we accept ourselves. We are in a universal competition for acceptance that no one wants a part of, but so few have the courage to stop competing.

What will ever be enough?

 

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 🙂

Judge a Book by its Cover

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Besides writing I am much more hooked in reading. And having a degree in Literature gave me the opportunity to browse through virtually all sorts of literature and read countless books. Even now, despite outrageous demands from my job, I still make it certain to grab some time to indulge in reading every single day. In fact, I might forget to carry a phone with me but never a book wherever I go. That’s just me.

And talking about judging an actual book by its cover (yes, its cover alone without reading through the synopsis usually written at the back side of it) is one thing I actually  do.

As we’re all aware of, Twitter demands the news of the day be condensed into 140 characters. In order to squeeze in our pithy commentary, we crop and substitute, abbreviate and summarize. Yet Leo Tolstoy was able to use just three words to frame his 1,225-page novel ‘War and Peace’, while a book that continues to influence political discourse after more than half a century carries the four-character title of ‘1984’.

In the space of just a few words or even numbers, the titles of books can capture the mood, theme and style of the stories within. More than once, I have been persuaded to buy a book simply as a result of the poetry of its title.

The first time that I remember being won over in this way was when I saw ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ on a bookshelf. It seemed to me that the title was a profound and beautiful statement in itself. Happily, I enjoyed the book in its entirety and it provided a gateway for me into Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s body of work, including the other gorgeously-titled ‘Cien años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude)’

I consider a book title to be a window into its interior. It can be whimsical or terse, evocative or opaque. And sometimes, it is the simple rather than the prosaic, which best tells the story.

Titles are much more than just words — they shape our expectations, reflect a book’s character, and help cement a story in our memories.

Author John Irving spoke about the significance of titles when he discussed the order in which he crafts a novel: “Titles are important, I have them before I have books that belong to them. I have last chapters in my mind before I see first chapters, too. I usually begin with endings, with a sense of aftermath, of dust settling, of epilogue.”

However, titles were not as much of a driving force for writer Judy Blume, author of the memorably titled ‘Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret’, who said: “I always have trouble with titles for my books. I usually have no title until the editor has to present the book and calls me frantically, ‘Judy, we need a title’.”

More so, the power of a title becomes clear when considering the impact of an alternative title for a well-loved book. Some of the other titles under consideration by F Scott Fitzgerald for what was later to become ‘The Great Gatsby’ included ‘Among the Ash Heaps and Millionaires’, ‘Trimalchio in West Egg’ and ‘Trimalchio’. Would the book, considered by some to be the great American novel, be as enduringly popular if it had been given its original name?

It is doubtful whether ‘Gone with the Wind’ would have captured quite as many hearts if Margaret Mitchell had stuck with her original title ‘Mules in Horses’ Harness’.

What is clear is that titles are much more than just words — they shape our expectations, reflect a book’s character, and help cement a story in our memories. At their best, they can capture the reader’s imagination, before they even open the first page.

How about you? What is your favorite book title? Here are some of my favorites:

The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck

The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

Where Angels Fear to Tread, E.M. Forster

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, Jon McGregor

 

Photo credits: Google photos

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

A Rebel in the Name of Greatness

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What separates good from great?

It’s one of those simple questions that get thrown around a lot and no one really has a clear answer to.

You’ll always hear a quote from someone who is accomplished, a sports figure, a big entrepreneur, even a religious figure. And although it’s great to get reassurance from someone who is already “considered to be great” — what’s really stopping people from accomplishing their goals is themselves.

In this article, I really just want to point out something that’s obvious and not a lot of people understand. That is…people are holding themselves back from being great, sometimes they can be at the cusp of success and greatness, but they give up on themselves to choose and find happiness in being good. I, myself, am also guilty of this. Not that I don’t understand but that I don’t really do that what I think I understand.

However, that’s understandable per se because everybody has a different meaning of success and greatness.

Not everybody can be an Ali, a Steve Jobs, a Gandhi, an Einstein, but they can be the greatest person they can be and perform to the best of their abilities.

The obvious problem is that people often get trapped by Dogma. And by definition: Dogma is basically the set of beliefs (or rules) set by some higher authoritative figure that the masses tend to follow.

Now, I’m not asking for you to start and anarchist movement, what I am saying is to think for yourselves.

Break the mold, but at the same time play by society’s rules. Become adaptable but always stay true to your beliefs.

Whatever you feel is the right thing to do, just go with it and ride it out. If you fail, the worst thing that happened is you tried. Just make sure you’re doing it for you. As the proverbial question inquires:  Would you rather fail at something that you’re great at or do good at something that you don’t like? Because the fact of the matter is that you will never know if you’re great at something unless you try.

So if you’re striving to be great at something and you’re unsure, I would definitely recommend trying — even if it’s one time! Worst case, you’ll gain a lot of experience and, at the end of the day, never have to ask yourself the regretful, “What if?”

Never forget that life isn’t supposed to be a “straight line,” you are going to have a lot of highs and just as many lows. Further, the lows that you’ll face when reaching your goals may seem bad at the time, yet always bear this in mind: “diamonds don’t exist without pressure.”

Sometimes your mindset will be the biggest factor coming into play and it’s up to you to be headstrong and make sure that nothing can stop you from reaching a goal and building your own legacy.

For all we know, life isn’t a rehearsal and you sure as hell aren’t going to get a second chance. Be that as it may, always ask yourself: Why not?

Why not you? Why can’t you be great? And if/when you think you’re already great, why can’t you be even greater?

P.S.: If you have thoughts about this article, I’ll be happy to read them in the comments below 🙂

Photo credits: Google photos

Be the Captain of your Soul.

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How would you like to become the “captain of your ship, the master of your destiny”? If this question resonates even in the slightest with you, then perhaps it’s time to actually own the notion that you are a soul having a human experience, that it’s up to you to determine the quality of experience you have as you navigate this life.

You may not get to choose all that happens to you, but you can choose how you respond. What happens to you in life is not the issue; rather, how you respond is the real issue.

The power of this simple advice comes down to an inarguable basic truth: While many events will occur throughout your life, how you go through what happens to you is your choice and yours alone. Now, of course, many will choose to argue with the inarguable, but then that’s their choice as well. Over the years of sharing God’s words to other people by applying the approach of “teaching what I most need to learn” and having observed through working with people, I have come to learn of the obvious that, in life, what you resist, you remain stuck with. If you will, allow me to share the lessons I’ve learned.

I have learned that I can complain, blame or generally be upset with what happens around me or to me, and the more upset I get, the more resistant I become, the more things remain the same. Curiously, the more I have surrendered to the fact that I’m the one choosing my reactions to the apparently negative events in my life, the fewer negative events seem to occur. It could be that the same kind of situations keep showing up with the only real difference being one of learning to make lemonade out of the lemons.

If you wish to argue with the obvious truth that you’re the one choosing how you respond to what happens, then you get to stay stuck with the quality of experience you are having. If you like the experience you are having, then there’s no need to change a thing. However, if you find yourself complaining, blaming or getting upset with what’s happening around you, perhaps it’s time to consider that you do have a choice.

You are the Captain of Your Soul

William Ernest Henley wrote an intriguing poem first published in 1875 that offers some profound wisdom and insight into how you can choose to navigate life’s currents.  The poem sums up a courageous view of dealing with life’s challenges in its concluding stanza, again underscoring that we have choice in how we experience what happens to us:

Out of the night that covers me, 
      Black as the pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be 
      For my unconquerable soul. 
In the fell clutch of circumstance 
      I have not winced nor cried aloud. 
Under the bludgeonings of chance 
      My head is bloody, but unbowed. 
Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
      Looms but the Horror of the shade, 
And yet the menace of the years 
      Finds and shall find me unafraid. 
It matters not how strait the gate, 
      How charged with punishments the scroll, 
I am the master of my fate, 
      I am the captain of my soul.

There are many versions of these truths, and yet they all come down to the same basic elements: what is, is. How you choose to experience what is has nothing to do with the events and everything to do with your own choices about how to respond. Of course, it’s pretty hard to make good choices if you don’t have a goal in mind. You might find it useful to take a break from everything and explore the deeper aspects of who you truly are to move past your self and spend some time listening to your soul.

What would your soul have you experience? Listen closely and you will become captain of your ship, master of your destiny. Turn a deaf ear to that quiet inner voice of your soul, and you may wind up shipwrecked instead.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this subject. How have you taken the helm? How have you guided your own experience of life? Please share in the comment section below.