I have something I want to share with you; a fear. We all have that fear. A fear that by this time next year, I’ll still be here and not there, where I planned to be.
Funny though, that’s not my greatest fear. My greatest fear is that millions of people have this fear and might never overcome it.
You see we live in a generation of creative excuse makers. We come up with every excuse in the book. If it’s not in the book we write down a new one and publish the sequel. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to write down excuses. You can write down your own story, make the script hot and not bland, full of misery. Life should not be insipid, taking actions without consideration for the consequence to the future.
You can’t do anything about yesterday, it’s gone. Neither can you do anything about tomorrow, it’s not here yet. Your life’s story is written today. In the here and in the now, in the moment. I hate my fear. Hate the fact that when I wake up all groggy-eyed in the morning, get a shower and head to the coffee shop. Nearly every person I pass on the street has a good shot at living a mediocre life. Dying with the things the world didn’t have the pleasure of experiencing.
“Only when we are no longer afraid, do we begin to live” – Dorothy Thompson
This quote by Dr Myles Munroe best resonates with what I’m trying to say:
‘’The wealthiest place in the world is not the goldmines of south America or the oil fields of Irak or Iran. They are not the diamond mines south Africa or the banks of the world. The wealthiest place on the planet is just down the road, it is the cemetery. There lie buried companies that were never started, inventions that were never made, bestselling books that were never written, and masterpieces that were never painted. In the cemetery is buried the greatest treasure of untapped potential. ’’
You think death is bad? Try living a life without purpose. Please don’t die, not death in the literal sense. Death in a metaphorical view. Drifting by each day with the same lacklustre demeanour. Life isn’t sucked out in a flash, no not like that. There goes a second, and then another….a minute walks by, those tiny little minutes filled with sixty seconds each transcend into a year and year into years.
The only way to create the life you desire is to treat these little seconds like they’re your last. Get everything out of each and every one. To have an ability is a great thing, to hide it from the world is… is… is just plain evil.
1. The sacrifice you have to make for one unique quality
Contrary to what you might believe, you don’t need to do so many things to have the life you desire. What you have to do is put so many seconds, minutes, hours into one thing, one quality. One idea really can revolutionise your life.
In the realization of dreams, specialization is very important. You can’t(even if you tried) undermine the power of concentration.
Tyler Perry, in a short video clip also placed emphasis on the focus of one:
‘’I had one idea, and that was to do a play, all the other stuff came. My only idea, my only focus was to do my one play and I knew if I could get that to work, everything else would come to pass. There’s so many people who go in different directions, this week they’re doing this, the next week they’re doing that and the next week they’re doing this and the next week they’re gonna be into real estate, the next week they’re gonna open a salon.These kind of people are all over the place and I usually try to get them to focus, focus on one thing, one area. Put all of your energy into watering one area. ’’
The power of focus is truly phenomenal. Attention divided substantially reduces the chances of success. Put so many seconds into one quality that you become the ‘’go-to’’ guy for it. You’ve probably noticed how much emphasis I place on seconds. They’re the seeds that are used to plant trees whose roots grow deep into our history and whose leaves sprout to shed beauty on our story.
2. The danger of accepting a single truth
Don’t! just don’t, believe any generalization made about you, your family, your town, whatever. They might be true, but not for you. True in the sense that it’s what has always been.
You change that, you have to. Steer the course of that sheep into another direction, if that doesn’t work, you jump. Jump! Even at the risk of drowning. My maths lecturer back in college shared with me the story of how he was the first in his family line to complete a college education. You might think ‘’meh, it’s not that special’’. However, on deeper thought, just think. This meant there were no references to success, no obligation whatsoever to make that accomplishment. He could just as easily have chosen to be like all the others. This leads me to my next point:
3. A discouraging lack of references
Dreams are usually crazy and that’s why most people’s dreams remain just that-a dream. It’s hard to visualize something when no one else in sight has achieved it. Maybe no one else in your family has gone beyond the fences of your hometown. Maybe no one has ever made a million dollars….. So it becomes hard for you to picture these things for yourself. The mere thought of your dreams are overwhelming. Well dreams do come true and that’s why you have to…Create your own references.
No one’s done that before? You be the first… Nobody’s gone there before? Get a car, rip off the rearviews and head there at a speed that’ll have your speed metre rotating all over the place. No one has reached that height? Jack a plane and join the 1% at the top.
When writing your life story, you must get creative and build your own success references. The single truth about the people around your environment must not be applicable to you. Don’t adapt to your environment as a chameleon would, changing at every beckoning. Inspire the colours that shine to the world, your world.
Run away from the 95%, don’t do what they do, don’t use their disempowering words, don’t be as shortsighted as they are and most of all, don’t be afraid to be different. Never accept the single truth, create yours.
4. What can one man do?
When I was much younger, it puzzled me how much was put into the election of ‘’one’’ man during the presidential elections. I didn’t really see how one person could impact such a large country, how naive I was. All it takes is one man, one man can change the world. That’s probably why Marrianne Williamson said ‘’Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. ’’
What does one man need to make a difference? Hunger! That’s it, the hunger.
If the hunger were a fraction
If that hunger were represented mathematically as a fraction, it’d be something like ‘’1/3’’.Further divided into 0.333333333333333333333333…which goes on to infinity. Not something like ‘’1/5’’ whose decimal burns out like a candle-0.2. It’s finite and has an end. The hunger required can never be finite.
If the hunger were a short phrase
It’d be the phrase a man that gives no excuses uses: ‘’It’s done’’. Competent men use this phrase whenever they’re confronted by a daunting task because they know a solution can and must be found. The competent man looks at you with stone cold conviction. You think he’ll quit but then he goes ‘’it’s done’’ and without saying another word, walks out of your prescence, out to conquer.
When you do your best and that’s still not enough, remember this phrase(it’s done). Beyond your best, there’s something better than your best and that’s ‘’what’s required’’.
If the hunger were a quote
‘’Stay hungry,stay foolish. ’’
It’s true that if your dreams don’t scare you, you need to dream bigger. The world should see you as a fool because of your dreams. Always stay hungry, never lose that urge, that yearning.
Whenever you feel yourself losing your drive, remember this quote by Steve Jobs: ‘’Stay hungry, stay foolish .’’
“Wanting something is not enough, you must hunger for it” – Les Brown
The worst kind of man is ‘’the settler’’. There’s more to life than you’ve had, done, seen, been. The writer of this story is but one person-YOU. No one can give you the blueprint, you have to create yours. Live your life on your own terms.
Forget the good old days, write the new, bold days. Please don’t take books, ideas, inventions, businesses, songs, creations with you to the grave, the world should get the chance to experience the beauty you have.
On a final note, I want you to take some time to seriously ponder this question: What would the world have lost, had I not been born?
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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?
When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?
As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?
Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.
Let’s park this one for now and we will come back.
Categorization is essential to our survival
There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses.
The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.
An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.
In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.
When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting!
Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.
- lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin
- lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin
The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.
Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored.
This amazing skill has its drawbacks
As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.
Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)
Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.
This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.
Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.
The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people?
We can overcome unconscious bias
Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals.
Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms.
Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds.
The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals.
What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!
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